Holy Child would like to congratulate the 54 members of the Class of 2019, who celebrated their graduation on Saturday, June 8 at 3:00 p.m.
Student Government President Elizabeth Hasfal and Senior Class President Grace Gardella addressed the class. Ms. Hasfal said, "There is no doubt that Holy Child has provided us with a rigorous and well-rounded education. However, it is our shared experiences outside of the classroom that have prepared us to tackle what lies ahead. These experiences created unbreakable bonds and gave us a strong foundation that will last a lifetime.” Ms. Gardella noted, "Throughout my time at Holy Child, I have continuously been amazed by my classmates’ bravery as they speak their truths, stand up for what they believe in, and choose to be vulnerable in front of their peers."
Melissa Dan, Ed.S., Head of School also addressed the graduates: "It’s a good life. Enjoy it, girls.” She continued, “Your footprints are all over our hearts and our School. And I have no doubt that you will continue to make your mark on a world that desperately needs your intelligence, compassion, and courage."
Ms. Dan then welcomed Commencement Speaker Lieutenant Jacqueline Penichet, Holy Child alumna of the Class of 2009. While a student at Holy Child, Jackie was Captain of the Varsity Track and Field Team, and a member of the Varsity Soccer Team, the Madrigals, and Campus Ministry.
After graduating from Holy Child, Jackie entered the United States Naval Academy, where she founded the Power Flight Program, obtained her Private Pilot’s License, and was a member of Catholic Daughters of America and Varsity Women’s Crew. Lieutenant Penichet graduated in the top 10% of her class with a Bachelor’s of Science in Systems Engineering with Honors. Prior to graduation, she was selected as a Bowman Scholar, receiving early admission to the Nuclear Submarine Officer Pipeline and a one-year graduate program at the Naval Postgraduate School. Lieutenant Penichet is one of the first females ever to be selected to work in the submarines.
Commissioned in May 2013, Lieutenant Penichet subsequently earned a Master’s Degree in Acoustics Engineering with a minor in Undersea Warfare. She reported onboard USS MICHIGAN, Gold Crew, in October 2015. While onboard MICHIGAN, she served as Reactor Controls Assistant, Local Area Network Division Officer, and Operations Officer with the collateral duties of Recreational Service Officer and Religious Lay Leader.
In 2018, MICHIGAN was awarded the U.S. Pacific Fleet Battle Excellence Award. After serving three years onboard MICHIGAN and three Western Pacific deployments, Lieutenant Penichet was hand selected as Flag Aide to Vice Admiral William Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems. She is currently stationed at the Pentagon. Lieutenant Penichet’s personal decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation and Achievement Medals, as well as two Battle E’s.
In her speech, Lieutenant Jacqueline Penichet addressed the girls: "The world requires women of conscience and action, perhaps more now than ever before. There is a crisis of leadership in this 21stcentury which spans across the globe. I am here to tell each and every one of you that YOU can make a difference. And if we all make a difference through our own actions and our own conscience then what a different world this will be. All that is required is your leadership." She noted that during their first summer at the Naval Academy, midshipmen are required to memorize Teddy Roosevelt’s “man in the arena” quote, which she shared with the girls. Then she went on to say, “I face uncertainty every time I submerge and lead 180 men and women into the great depths of the ocean, yet I stand empowered and proud, ready to serve my country and ready to lead my crew. Holy Child taught me to make a difference in this world – no matter how small – and that each one of us has the power to stand up for what we believe in… and achieve it.”
Ms. Dan and Chair of the Board of Trustees Thomas Girard conferred 54 diplomas to the Class of 2019, as well as four special awards:
The Holy Child Award, for earning the highest average based on the highest general academic average for 4 years at Holy Child, was awarded to: Emma O’Shea.
The Cornelia Connelly Award, for outstanding service and leadership in school and community, was awarded to: Elizabeth Hasfal.
The Sister Mary Basil Award, given by the graduating class to the one among them who has consistently shown Christ-like compassion, generosity and concern for others, was awarded to: Grace Gardella.
The Dede Ross Award, presented by former Chair of the Board of Trustees and Holy Child parent Dede Ross, for the senior who has enriched the lives of all at Holy Child through her honesty, humility, quiet perseverance, and sense of humor, was awarded to: Alex Marchese.