Sacred Heart Greenwich held a drive-through graduation celebration last month. But on Friday, the Class of 2020 had an opportunity to say a final in-person goodbye to their beloved school.
Dressed in white dresses, the 82 graduates gathered across from Salisbury Hall for an outdoor graduation, celebrating a senior year they won’t forget.
The graduates were seated under a large tent for the ceremony. They practiced social distancing, but the group, which had been through so much in this year of COVID-19, felt especially close on this day.
In the spirit of togetherness, the gathering was just the students and some of their teachers. The ceremony was livestreamed for their families, keeping the size of the gathering small enough to follow public health guidelines.
But the bond and friendships shared by Sacred Heart’s graduating seniors throughout their scholastic careers at the all-girls Catholic school was evident.
“Sacred Heart has felt like a second home to me,” valedictorian Valentina Grether said. “We were not only chosen and accepted to attend Sacred Heart, we ourselves chose the school. We all share a special bond.”
Indeed, the students’ senior year was unique, as Grether noted.
“I always said senior year would fly by, but I never thought it would Zoom by,” said Grether, drawing laughs as she referred to the many online meetings for distance learning. “It always amazes me how well-prepared we think we are, but life is full of surprises.”
Plenty of senior moments were lost, co-salutatorian Caroline Badagliacca said, but there are a lot moments she and her classmates cherish.
“The last day of school was March 11, something none of us expected to be possible,” Badagliacca said. “Leaving school that day, I joked about us graduating over Zoom. But as time went by, it became less and less funny and more and more disheartening.
“But I found myself thinking back on my 10 years here and I found that I had many fond memories. It became clear to me what stands out are the small memories — they are what matter most,” she said.
Badagliacca recalled going to a New York Mets game with her classmates and singing the Sacred Heart song.
“Happiness is not always derived from the big events, we should be grateful for the joy we found in the little experiences we enjoyed each day,” she said. “There are many blessings for us to be thankful for.”
Attitude with gratitude was the theme of the senior class, which chose yellow as their color.
“As we leave Sacred Heart, I challenge you to treat every day like it’s a bright yellow senior spring we wanted,” Badagliacca said.
Elisa Howard, also a co-salutatorian, remembered how her classmates welcomed her after she transferred in as a junior.
“Transferring to Sacred Heart afforded me the opportunity of new beginnings and forging a new path,” Howard said. “I met my 81 Sacred Heart classmates, each of whom I call my sisters. I have witnessed them become accomplished athletes, writers, film makers, artist, actresses, musicians, scientists and so much more.”
Nicole Seagriff, a 2003 Sacred Heart graduate was the commencement speaker. Seagriff serves as the on-site medical director of the Norwalk and Stamford locations of the Community Health Center. She has managed clinical compliance and operations of the health centers since 2015.
A Boston College graduate with a master’s degree from Yale, Seagriff is president of the Pink Agenda. The nonprofit organization raises money and awareness among young professionals for breast cancer research.
“If you look hard enough, you can see a silver lining in every situation,” Seagriff told the graduates. “Yellow is your color and yellow symbolizes, being cheerful and optimistic.”
She stressed the significance of remaining optimistic and noted that life can get off course at times. Her aunt lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 47, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer as a 27-year-old.
“All of you will have something that you need to overcome,” Seagriff said. “Your plans can go off course and you can be left with nothing but your attitude and the manner in which you pick up the pieces.”
Though she has been in the role as Sacred Heart’s head of school for only two weeks, Margaret Frazier said she knows the Class of 2020 was special.
“The only way I know the girls is through the interview process, but I know they represented the school so well,” Frazier said. “I know from their teachers and the former head of school what great leaders they were. They really did center on an attitude of gratitude. They started with that as their theme in August and in many ways it was a wonderful omen of what they had to grapple with.”
Before introducing the graduates, Sacred Heart Greenwich Dean of Students Karen Panarella presented the school’s special Goals and Criteria Awards.
Giselle Grey and Taylor O’Meara received the goal No. 1 award, which they received for how they demonstrated a personal and active faith in God. Malika Amoruso and Pamela Rosenburgh were chosen for goal No. 2 award for displaying a deep respect for intellectual values. Stephanie Guza and Elizabeth Hisler received an award for the values and social awareness they exhibited. Olivia Andrews and Jennafer Washington were presented with an award for displaying their Christian values in the community. Mary Marcogliese and Cassidy Willie Lawes were selected for an award for showing personal growth in an atmosphere of wide freedom. Erin O’Connor (Alumnae Community Service Award), Katherine Harkins (Class Spirit Award), Sarah Carter (Greenwich Award), Elizabeth Colligan and Christine Guido (Lucie White Award) and Salome Alfaro (Maureen Taylor Memorial Award) were each chosen for special awards.
The Sacred Heart Greenwich Class of 2020 includes: Alice Adams, Salome Alfaro, Rachel Ali, Malika Amoruso, Olivia Andrews, Leah Atkins, Caroline Badagliacca, Caroline Baranello, Konstantina Barker, Grayson Bennett, Zada Brown, Edilia Bueno, Cameron Calcano, Sarah Carter, Emma Caruso, Claire Chmiel, Alexa Choy, Bridget Cobb, Elizabeth Colligan, Sophia Curto, Celia Daigle, Elle de Alessandri, Lillian DeConcini, Gabrielle DiBiase, Julie Drago, Megan Farrell, Georgia Ferguson, Sydney Gallop, Olivia Gasvoda, Sophia Georgas, Ashley Giannetti, Valentina Grether, Giselle Gray, Christine Guido, Isabella Gunningham, Stephanie Guza, Carly Haines, Bridget Hamlet, Victoria Hannett, Katherine Harkins, Aubrey Hash, Linley Himes, Elizabeth Hisler, Kara Hodge, Elisa Howard, Zoe Kassapidis, Kathryn Keller, Sydney Kim, Peyton Lauricella, Mary Marcogliese, Julia Matthiesen, Avery McCloskey, Grace McDevitt, Nicole Mellert, Caitlyn Mitchell, Kathleen Murray, Grace Nemec, Erin O’Connor, Taylor O’Meara, Gabriella Petrizzo, Christine Plaster, Michaela Pond, Jacqueline Prata, Paige Pucel, Isabella Quinson, Isabella Rogers, Pamela Rosenburgh, Amelia Sheehan, Morgan Smith, Mariana Soto, Eliza Stanley, Nicole Tapia, Daniella Tocco, Renata Trevino, Elizabeth Trimble, Kellie Ulmer, Arielle Uygur, Piper Van Wagenen, Jennafer Washington, Julia Welsh, Cassidy Willie-Lawes and Elexa Wilson.