Cathedral takes walk down memory lane

Published 12:01 am Saturday, May 21, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Madalyn Kirkwood receives her diploma during Cathedral High School’s 163rd Graduation Ceremony Friday evening at St. Mary Basilica in downtown Natchez.

NATCHEZ — Cathedral High School’s valedictorian took her class, its teachers, administration and loved ones though a tour of Cathedral School memories with her speech at St. Mary’s Basilica Friday night.

Valedictorian Madalyn Marie Kirkwood said she remembers untied shoes and pretending to sleep at naptime at age 5, book fairs and sleepovers in third grade, dissecting crawfish in the last year of elementary school, getting dropped off by her parents at the first school dance in junior high and receiving caps and gowns as a seniors.

“The years fly by, just as we were told they would,” she said.

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Kirkwood said while the graduates have become used to leaning on their parents and each other during time at Cathedral, they will for the first time face adulthood after gradation.

“We have always been in the passenger seat of our own life, and now it’s our turn to drive,” Kirkwood said.

Kirkwood ended high school with a 100.893 average and plans to attend Louisiana State University.

Wearing green caps and gowns, 32 green-wave graduates eventually flipped their tassels to the left and exited the church with diplomas in hand as Cathedral’s 163rd gradating class.

“I have seen this before,” said commencement speaker, the Rev. Joseph Latino. “Smiles on faces, joy in the eyes and sweaty palms,” he said of students at their graduation ceremonies.

Latino challenged the young people to prepare to dream even bigger beyond the their high school years.

“Take the wisdom you have (gained) and use that wisdom not just for (your) life, but for the world,” he said.

Accept challenges, which are a part of life, and be bold, he said.

Salutatorian Emily Dixon Hall said her constant goal of reaching life beyond high school, however, has made her realize what she will be losing.

She said she has become so comfortable with her life in Natchez at Cathedral that she failed to grasp the idea that the her friends and family will not always be there.

“Underclassmen — don’t make the same mistake I made and wish high school away,” she said fighting tears.

Hall also thanked parents in the congregation for each meal they have cooked and day they stayed home from work to care for their sick child.

Hall ended high school with a 100.411 average and plans to attend the University of Mississippi.

After the graduate’s speeches, Alvin Shelby sang “I’m Not Gonna Cry,” while graduates dispersed around the church to deliver red roses to their families, which put many graduates, mothers and some fathers in tears.

Sister Deborah Hughes, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic diocese of Jackson, spoke to the graduates about the choices they face in college and later years.

Hughes said the choice belongs to graduates to take what they learned about living the Gospel of Jesus Christ at Cathedral and applying it to their future.

“Our world needs people that have good, strong gospel values,” Hughes said.

Her hope for the graduates Friday night, she said, was that the lessons the students have learned from Cathedral that helped make them into who they are now will continue to mold them into who they become in the future.