ROCK HILL—When the 10 members of the Class of 2018 from St. Anne School walked into their graduation ceremony on June 2, they created a bit of history for Catholic education in South Carolina.
These 10 students are the first to graduate from the only K-12 school in the Diocese of Charleston.
The high school program at St. Anne was established in 2014 with the approval of Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone. The concept was developed because it is the only Catholic school in the area, and there are not enough feeder schools around Rock Hill to support a separate high school.
The senior class is yet another historic milestone for St. Anne. It was established in 1951, and in 1954 it became the first racially integrated school in South Carolina.
Members of the inaugural graduating class are Elizabeth Stevens Barbery, Ryan Burns, Ashby Walters Callahan, TienTrung Nguyen Dinh, Thy Quynh Do, Augustine Ruslan Krause, Rileigh Pack, Alexander Rainier, Chau Thai Vo, and Charles Elias Ward.
The 10 students earned 77 acceptances into 55 colleges and universities, and collectively earned $1.5 million in merit-based scholarships.
The commencement speaker was Pat Kelsey, the men’s basketball coach from nearby Winthrop University, and the parent of a St. Anne student.
Kelsey praised St. Anne for providing the young people with both a strong academic and moral foundation for their years ahead. He encouraged them to persevere in the future even when things get tough, and to remember most of all the strong foundation of faith they received at the school.
Three of the students — Burns, Pack and Ward — have attended the school since kindergarten. They will not soon forget their 13 years at St. Anne.
Pack, class valedictorian, said she will carry many positive memories with her as she goes off to college, ranging from her appearance in a school production of “Fiddler on the Roof” to playing powder puff football during Catholic Schools Week. She is headed to Sewanee University in Tennessee, where she plans to major in English and anthropology.
“Going to St. Anne was an experience I wouldn’t have traded for anything else,” she said. “The community aspect at St. Anne is truly special. We truly are a family.”
Alex Rainier was known as the writer of the senior class, and he showed off this signature skill by wearing a journal and pen stuck to the top of his mortarboard. He said St. Anne is a special place that uniquely prepared him to study creative writing at Furman University.
“I’m really going to miss the small and connected classroom experience we had here; being able to talk with the teachers one on one,” Rainier said. “I also truly treasure the friends I made here. We’ve been through a lot together and became a family.”
Burns, who plans to study music performance at Winthrop, also said he will miss the close sense of community that exists at St. Anne.
“I really don’t know any other community like this, and it will always be with me,” he said. “Everybody lifts each other up. Everyone here did a great job guiding our class through this and helping us along the way. Our graduation is really a school community milestone — not just a milestone for us seniors.”
For their senior gift, the Class of 2018 established the Ten for Tomorrow Fund, an endowment meant to fund future buildings, facilities and scholarships at St. Anne.
Top photo, Christina Lee Knauss/Miscellany: Members of the class of 2018 at St. Anne applaud as fellow classmates receive their diplomas. From left: Elizabeth Stevens Barbery, Ryan Burns, Ashby Walters Callahan, TienTrung Nguyen Dinh and Thy Quynh Do.
Five other high schools in the diocese also held graduations, starting with Cardinal Newman on May 19 and ending with Bishop England on June 9. See their photos below.
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