By Jackie Majerus
HARTFORD – When he and his classmates entered St. Paul Catholic High School four years ago, the four years ahead seemed like forever, said class Valedictorian Alexander Klapheke.
But in his commencement address at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on a sweltering Monday night, Klapheke said he wondered where the time went.
He wasn't alone.
"It's hard to believe it's here," said Mary Beth Chute of Southington, who watched her only child, Courtney, graduate with the class decorated with honors for Spanish. "It went by really fast. Really, really fast."
Hugging their families, classmates and friends, the graduates emerged from the cool cathedral clutching their diplomas to join their waiting families on the steps.
Courtney Chute said she was "thrilled. Right now I'm just happy. I'll probably be sad later, not yet."
Beth Pond of Bristol, who graduated wearing honors for English and social studies and plans to attend Hendrix College in Arkansas, said the class is small and tight-knit. She said she's looking forward to college, but that it is sad to see so many close friends going their separate ways.
"We've made so many memories," said Pond.
Graduate Tina Audet of Terryville, the class yearbook editor, said she loved the senior nights and class picnic.
"I liked it all," said Audet, who plans to study nursing at St. Joseph's College in Maine.
Class President and Salutatorian Andrew Dupont of Bristol said their time at St. Paul was filled with "delight, bliss and inner peace."
"We have all enjoyed our own slice of heave in these last four years of St. Paul," said Dupont, who wore honors for English and Spanish. "We have truly become a family since our freshman year."
In his address, Klapheke, whose honors were for math and science, said the class learned the most from each other.
The good and the bad times they experienced at St. Paul, Klapheke said, will help shape their futures.
"I know each one of you," said Klapheke. "We'll all go on to achieve great personal success."
Klapheke urged his classmates to cherish their imaginations, to never be afraid to question, and to always be true to themselves.
Bishop Christie Macaluso also addressed the class, and recognized the parents and families for giving their graduates the opportunity for education "at some considerable sacrifice."
Macaluso said he likes graduations because they're "always so brimming with idealism and optimism."
The bishop urged graduates not to lose that spirit as they leave St. Paul behind."Guard it well. Don't let it slip through your fingers."
All the good that's done in the world, all the problems that are solved and the inventions that are created "are products of hopeful, idealistic people who refuse to give up," Macaluso said.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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