After three years of the pandemic, one tradition returned this year with all its pomp and circumstance: graduation.
After holding graduation for the last two years at Arlington Park, this year’s commencement exercises returned to the Cahill Gymnasium. The morning started with the traditional procession, as graduates in their caps and gowns processed around the building, led by a cross bearer.
Just before they entered the front doors of the school, they split in two allowing their teachers to march in first, drawing an emotional round of applause.
The graduation ceremony lasted just over one hour, fitting in the awarding of diplomas to all the graduates, as well as a send-off from President Fr. Daniel Lydon, C.S.V. '73 and an address from this year’s valedictorian, Henry Jochaniewicz.
The event also included the awarding of the school’s most prestigious honors presented to outstanding seniors, the Andrew Johnstone Award and the Christopher Cup.
Joey Dauphin was named the 2023 winner of the Johnstone Award. The honor was created in memory of Andrew Johnstone, who died in the summer of 1991, before the start of his senior year, when he would have served as class president. Consequently, criteria for the award includes demonstrating leadership within the school community.
Joey’s list of activities is extensive, starting with playing football all four years, participating in the Viator Voice and excelling in academics, particularly in the STEM program. But he also served as a LINK leader and FIRE crew ambassador, with outstanding service to Campus Ministry and the Respect Life Club.
No sooner than Henry left the podium after he delivered his speech, that he was called back on stage as the winner of the Christopher Erdmann Award. His name will be etched on the Christopher Cup, along with more than 50 other prestigious winners.
The award was created in memory of Christopher Erdmann ‘68, who passed away from leukemia. It was created to recognize a student who has taken active involvement and leadership in the improvement of Saint Viator High School.
Henry was a member of the Querbes Scholars Program, and he excelled in the STEM program, math team, Scholastic Bowl and National Honors Society, to name just a few of his accomplishments.
But he cites co-founding the Rosary Club, which met every Friday in the Alumni Memorial Chapel, as his favorite activity. The club and its founders, Henry and classmate Marianne Mercurio, drew the attention of Fr. Lydon who awarded both students the Fr. John W. R. Maguire Award at Friday’s Baccalaureate Mass.
The Maguire Award was created last year to recognize students – and faculty – who embody the living spirit of St. Viator, by being honorable and just and by being “shining scepters of justice and charity.”
Two others were recognized with the Maguire Award on Friday, including Mary Rittle, who quietly fostered community and God’s love among her classmates, as well as Ms. Elyse Slezak ’09, who formed the Community Leadership Committee, or CLC, which spreads positivity throughout the school.
A featured speaker at Friday’s Baccalaureate Mass was salutatorian Colton Schwabe. Like Henry, he was a member of the Querbes Scholars Program and excelled in academics, particularly in the STEM program. He also played golf and tennis and just last weekend played second doubles at sectionals.
But Colton also brings his Viatorian education to his parish, Saint Mary Church in Buffalo Grove, where he is involved in peer ministry and helps to prepare eighth graders for confirmation. This fall he will be heading to Duke University, where he plans to double major in electrical engineering and mathematics.