On Saturday, May 20, Loyola Academy celebrated its 113th Commencement Exercises at Northwestern University's Welsh-Ryan Arena. With family and friends present, 476 members of the Class of 2023 gathered one last time as classmates and departed as Loyola alumni.
Music accompanied the Class of 2023 as they processed, dressed in black or white dresses and white tuxedo jackets in accordance with a time-honored Loyola tradition. The ceremony began with the national anthem, and Mr. Alex DeWitt, SJ
, a member of the Society of Jesus and Loyola’s Social Studies and Languages Departments, delivered the invocation. Loyola Academy Principal Mr. Charles W. Heintz
then welcomed guests: “So, Ramblers, here we are. The conclusion of one journey…the beginning of another… While academic details will fade, I promise that you will remember the people you encountered. The friends you made, the lively banter with your teachers, the moments that took your breath away and the moments you reached for the mountaintop. Cherish those moments for a lifetime.” Heintz shared the story of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, who served as superior general of the Jesuits from 1965 to 1983, explaining that Arrupe “was unflinching in his commitment to the promotion of a faith that does justice, the dignity of the human person, and the common good. 50 years later, the essence of his message lives on at Loyola Academy and all Jesuit schools worldwide: we are called to a life of service for and with others. So, graduates and esteemed guests, be forewarned, from this day forward, your answer to the question, what did you learn in high school? ought to connect with the aspirational words of Fr. Arrupe, ‘It’s not what you say, it’s who you are.’”
Mr. Heintz then introduced valedictorian John Patrick Mraz Fitzgerald
, headed to Northwestern University in the fall. Fitzgerald gave an uplifting address to his fellow classmates: “We are all being sent out into the world, but we can always return to our community at Lake and Laramie. Because at the end of the day, Loyola is not a place; it is a people. It is the students, faculty, staff, and alumni that make Loyola what it is. You may be a Hoosier, Eagle, or a Hawkeye tomorrow, but you will always be a Rambler. So, I say to you, class of 2023: Give the world all that you got. Now is the time to be women and men for others, lift others up with you, and give the world all that you have. For some, that journey may take you across the world. For me, I might just have to go up a couple rows in the stands. You may be wearing red or blue or purple these next four years, but go and color the world maroon and gold.”
After the valedictorian’s address, Mr. Heintz presented the Graduate at Graduation Award
, given annually to two well-rounded seniors. The Grad at Grad award recognizes those who best resemble the ideal Jesuit high school graduate—someone who is religious, intellectually competent, physically fit, loving, open to growth, and committed to doing justice.
The 2023 Graduate at Graduation Award recipients are Hope Donnelly, who will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (Gies Business School) in the fall, and Luke Hughes, who will study international politics, religion, ethics, and world affairs at Georgetown University.
Mr. Heintz then introduced the 2023 Educator of the Year Award
, which recognizes a teacher for his or her outstanding contribution to the formation of students as voted by the senior class. The award was presented to Science Teacher Ms. Haley Yanarella
Before diplomas were conferred, Principal Heintz invited Loyola Academy President Rev. Gregory J. Ostdiek, SJ, to address the Class of 2023—the first class to graduate under his tenure as president and the last class to graduate under Principal Charlie Heintz. He spoke these words in his commencement address:
“The three things that I expect of you as you go forth from Loyola Academy: to take up the yoke of Christ in love; to remember those who have served you as your teachers; and that whatever you do, do well and do good. Quodcumque agis, age bene et bonum!
Fr. Greg then honored Principal Heintz with these words: “In place of a traditional, lengthy commencement address, I will instead briefly attempt to model for you one more aspect of what it is to be a Woman or Man for Others: gratitude. … During these 25 years with us, Principal Heintz has been a steadfast leader – a man of great faith and service. He has led our school community through the many twists and turns of the pandemic; navigated classes and schedules around the construction projects that brought us a beautiful new pool, piazza, and performing arts center; and he has led by example in standing up and speaking out for justice. To show our love of others through our work means that we bring to our work our very best, every day; that we are absolutely dedicated to excellence in whatever we do. Principal Heintz has helped a generation of Ramblers find God in all things, care for others, build community, and seek excellence. He has done well by doing good in whatever he has done.”
Diplomas were presented by Fr. Ostdiek and Mr. James P. Walsh ’79, chair of Loyola’s Board of Trustees. In keeping with a cherished Loyola Academy tradition, sons and daughters and grandchildren of Loyola and Marillac alumni—and those of trustees, faculty and staff—received their diplomas from these individuals, handed down from one generation to another. Associate Principal for Academics Mrs. Susie McGovern and Mr. Tim Kane ’86 of the English department read the names of graduates.
A roar of applause erupted after the last diploma was conferred and a spirit of excitement swirled the arena. Mr. Heintz thanked the Class of 2023 for its extraordinary leadership and offered them a reminder: “Now the real work begins. To humbly carry forth God’s will for your life, using your gifts, your knowledge, your work ethic and your heart for service and social justice.”
We wish all our graduates the best as they embark on the next chapter!
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