Nestled in the woods on Bridle Path Road near the Monocacy Creek, Kolbe Academy provides education and counseling for at-risk high school students. On June 7, the two members of the Class of 2021 celebrated their graduation.
The ceremony began with a Catholic Baccalaureate Mass. Students of the academy and one alumnus carried flags. Faculty were recognizable by their white corsages. The seniors, Gabriel Shellock and Joseph Skrip, entered behind the faculty. Members of the faculty participated in the service.
Celebrants included the Reverend Matthew Kuna of the Allentown Diocese, Kolbe Board Member Reverend Patrick H. Lamb, the newly ordained Reverend Philip J. Maas, Monsignor Robert J. Wargo of St. Joseph’s Orefield, Deacon Kevin C. Wasielewski, and Chaplain Reverend Bernard J. Ezaki, principal celebrant.
In his homily, Rev. Maas told the graduates, “God doesn’t give us a road map, but calls all Christians to holiness. This is a night for celebration for the work you’ve put in, for the time and energy you’ve put into it. Don’t worry about having it all figured out.”
As Holy Communion started, the graduates quietly presented their mothers with white roses.
The commencement ceremony began with the presentation of awards. Kolbe Principal John Petruzilli spoke to the people in the service: ‘Your presence speaks volumes to these young men.”
Shellock received the award or Outstanding Excellence in Study in Environmental Science. He also received an award from the Knights of Columbus. Skrip received the Chemistry and Government Award and the Trailblazer Award.
After the graduates were presented with their diplomas, they each spoke.
Shellock recalled his childhood, enjoying Hot Wheels cars and action figures. He told of his freshman year in high school, when he felt lost among the crowd, and losing friends, and how he fell to addiction and mental health issues. In his junior year, he went to Kolbe, and he said, “Kolbe is a family.”
Skrip said he came to the school broken, and was skeptical at first, but found home. He spoke of the teachers being caring.
There was a special guest in attendance. Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Jennifer Smith told the graduates that, as a mother, she would echo Forrest Gump and say, “Life is like a box of chocolates,” but her daughter, Hayley, would say, “Life is like an Oreo.” The middle is our character, intelligence, kindness.
Chancellor Dr. Brooke C. Tesche told the graduates she was “so proud of both of you and your families.”
The ceremony concluded with the Kolbe Promise, and the conclusion of the Mass.
As a member of Kolbe Academy,
I will trust in God’s plan for me.
I will be honest in all that I do.
I will be kind to myself and others.
I will have the courage to persevere.
I will humbly know who I am.
I will openly accept God’s grace each day.
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