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Bishop O’Dowd High School’s 64th Commencement was held on Sunday, June 3, at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre of the Arts.
On June 1, members of the Class of 2018 and their families gathered in the large gymnasium for the Baccalaureate Mass, celebrated by O’Dowd Chaplain Fr. Jim Sullivan. A reception on the Quad followed.
At the Commencement, Yujia Li delivered the valedictory address, while Ruby Perez gave the salutatory address.
One of the highlights of the Commencement was the presentation of the Cor Unum Award to Don and Ellie Knauss, who each addressed the students.
Named for the school’s motto, “One Heart in Christ,” the Cor Unum Award is Bishop O’Dowd High School’s highest honor. It is presented each year to select members of the O’Dowd community whose lives and work embody the school’s Mission to create a more just, joyful and sustainable world.
The couple was recognized for their steadfast commitment to providing a Catholic education to as many deserving students as possible through transformative gifts in support of financial aid, and service to the mission of Catholic education.
Ellie has been a member of the Board of Regents since 2012 and two of their four children – Alec ’10 and Kara ’13 – are alums.
She spoke eloquently about the impact of legacy – not the “inherit money from your great uncle” type of legacy, but a legacy that leaves a consequence, has an effect and produces a result.
“You are experiencing firsthand, the impact of legacy. You, O’Dowd’s graduating class of 2018, are living the legacy of a man who has been called a futurist in the field of Catholic education,” Ellie said. “Of course, I am speaking of Dr. Stephen Phelps, the president of Bishop O’Dowd High School for the last 12 years. Dr. Phelps’ job? Mentor, teacher, coach and president. But his legacy? Service to others focused on developing confident, capable and successful young people – like every graduate in this room!”
She encouraged students to form their own legacies, accomplishing something in their lives that makes a difference. “Some of you have already begun to form your legacies with what you have done at O’Dowd. Over the next four years try doing what made you happy in high school. Then try something else. Try as many things as possible. You will find something that gives you joy. But you can only do this by getting involved, taking a risk and putting yourself out there.”
Meanwhile, several students received special awards during the Commencement Exercises.
Ruby Perez and Connor Tamor received the General Activity awards, presented to students who are distinguished by scholarship, excellence in conduct and outstanding devotion to Bishop O’Dowd High School through participation and demonstrated leadership in extracurricular and cocurricular activities.
Teixeira Cooper and Samuel Showalter received the Loyalty awards, presented in recognition of their consistent support to the student body, staff and parents in carrying out activities, and their willingness to give of self in terms of service.
Scholar-Athlete awards went to Christina Pirrotta and Ryan Allen for distinguishing themselves through consistent excellence in academics and athletics, and demonstrated good sportsmanship on the athletic field.
Sabine Schroepfer and Chris Lucas received the Regents’ Award, given to the seniors who most exemplify the mission of Bishop O’ Dowd High School.
The members of the Class of 2018 will soon be headed to colleges and universities throughout the country. A complete listing will be included in the fall/winter 2018 issue of the Dragon magazine.