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Cardinal O’Hara celebrates 58th graduation

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TONAWANDA — Cardinal O’Hara High School celebrated its 58th commencement exercises on May 26 in the school’s Performing Arts Center.

The 58th commencement ceremony at Cardinal O’Hara High School included special accolades and gifts for principal Mary Holzerland who is retiring after almost 12 years of guiding the school. Among the members of the board of directors who lauded Holzerland are, from left, chairman of the board Michael Rizzo, assistant principal Jill Monaco, Holzerland, board members Jay Holler, Sue Kroczynski and Joan Mullin. (Photo courtesy of Cardinal O’Hara High School)

In her graduation address to the seniors, Sharon Patch ’03 said she was thankful for Cardinal O’Hara that set her on the path for success. Patch, director of government affairs for Delaware North, is also a member of the Town of Tonawanda Council.

She urged the students to keep adventure in their lives, get to know themselves, and do the work no else would do.

“We are called to speak the truth, turn anger into impact and hope for justice,” she said.

Chairman of the board Michael Rizzo urged graduates to find satisfaction in everything they do. “Keep the Prayer of St. Francis in your life, understand and believe in it,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo also commended principal Mary Holzerland, who is retiring after 12 years at the helm, as “a strong leader, who brought progress and Franciscan beliefs to Cardinal O’Hara.”

Presentations to the principal were made by staff members Thomas Appenheimer and Renee Orr; alumni representatives Phyllis Gentner and Charles Riley, both class of 1970, and board representatives Jay Holler and Sue Kroczynski.

Each group lauded Holzerland for increasing the standards at O’Hara and keeping the Franciscan values alive. Among the gifts is a bench, inscribed with her name, that will be placed in front of the school. Holzerland replied that she was thankful that everyone put their trust in her.

“I’m incredibly proud of these gifts,” she said. “We faced challenges that we never knew were coming and it made our work incredibly difficult. Getting through these two years exemplifies what it means to be a Hawk.”

She urged the graduates to “be the best that you can be and treat everyone with respect.”

The salutatorian address was presented by Brigid Benson and the valedictorian address by Jacqueline Appenheimer.

Holzerland announced that all the class of 2022 has met the requirements for a Regents diploma with 49 percent graduating as members of the National Honor Society and 69 percent with a Regents with Advanced Designation diploma.

“At this point in time,” Holzerland said, “the total amount of estimated money awarded to 47 members of the class of 2022 is more than $9.3 million. We are very proud of our seniors,” she added. Students who received special awards include Jacqueline Appenheimer, the Vivian Burkhart Memorial Award for a female scholar athlete; Mateo Curtis, the John McPartlin Memorial Award for a male scholar athlete; Marissa Lakeman, the Marie Mountain Award for loyalty and dedicated service to Cardinal O’Hara; Steven Barbera, the Roger Montz Award in memory of a ’66 graduate who gave his life to his Country, is given for loyal and dedicated service to school, classmates and community. Rhys Mandaville and Emily Hanes received the Faculty Student Service Award for time and service to school and community, embodying genuine Franciscan ideals and charity.

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