By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
For many students graduating from Ursuline High School, commencement day was bittersweet.
The 104 graduating seniors, who are claiming more than $9 million in scholarships, walked down the aisles of Stambaugh Auditorium Saturday with people who felt like family.
“I’m going to miss my friends,” said Dana Creatore of Boardman. “We’re like a big family. It’s going to be sad to see everyone go. We’re going to lose touch with a lot of people.”
The 19-year-old participated in softball, volleyball, Italian Club and more during her four years at Ursuline.
But she’ll remember the people.
“What I’ll remember the most is how close of a family we are, and how important we are to one another, and how we will always have each other’s backs,” she said.
Her four years at Ursuline flew by, she said. “It’s amazing how fast time goes by,” she added.
Creatore plans to attend Choffin Career & Technical Center to become certified as a surgical technician. Her ultimate goal is to become a registered nurse.
Her classmate, Ryan Peplowski of Liberty, agreed the class is like a family.
“I’m excited, a little bit nervous, a little bit sad, too,” the 18-year-old said. “There’s some emotion here, leaving my friends. We are a family. Some of us have come from St. Rose all the way up to Ursuline. We’ve been together for 12, 13 years.”
The small class size allowed him to get to know everyone, he said.
“Ursuline truly is a family,” he added.
He’s also excited to start something new. He will attend Youngstown State University to study business.
“I feel like Ursuline did a very good job of preparing me,” Peplowski said.
“And I’m very excited moving forward.”
At Ursuline, he participated in band, soccer and track.
A former Ursuline graduate offered the class of 2014 some pointers for the future.
Mayor John A. McNally, a 1987 Ursuline graduate and speaker for this year’s commencement, acknowledged he didn’t remember what the speaker at his commencement said. He also admitted he couldn’t remember the advice he gave the Ursuline class of 2001 as speaker. This time, he said, he didn’t want to lecture the graduates. Instead he offered them a few tips to survive being an adult.
First, he said, every day in life matters. And they will make decisions in each of those days.
“Do not fear the decisions you make,” he told the class. “Embrace them and move on.”
Second, because every day matters, he said, they should work hard and play hard. Third, set aside time each day to pray and reflect. And, finally, he told them, never stop learning. In closing, he told them to “make new friends and experience life outside the Mahoning Valley, because when you do you’ll begin to realize, or realize anew, the many wonderful things our area has to offer.”