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Turn to Jesus (Article)

To Whom Much is Given…
Seventeen students graduate from the first senior class of Everest Collegiate High School in Clarkston, Michigan

Everest graduates
Everest graduates toss their caps after saying a final decade of the Rosary around their school's Marian shrine

Clarkston, Michigan - “It is a great day to be a Mountaineer!”

These are the words of Everest Collegiate High School’s executive director, Michael Nalepa, as he addressed the 17 seniors who made history on Sunday, May 20, 2012, as the first graduating class from the fledgling high school in Clarkston, Michigan.

Among the group of “co-founders” were 13 young ladies from Everest Collegiate Girls’ High School and 4 young men from Everest Collegiate Boys’ High School. 

In conjunction with its namesake, Mount Everest (the highest mountain in the world) the school aptly named its mascot the Mountaineers, and its motto is “Semper Altius” meaning “Always Higher.”

Nalepa pointed out to the graduates that they have not just received a high school education, but an “Everest Collegiate formation.”  Everest uses the
Fr. Luis and Fr. Gomez
Fr. Luis Garza LC and Fr. Lorenzo Gomez LC during Mass
education model “Integral Formation” which is based on four “pillars,” including spiritual, academic, human virtue and apostolic service.  

Reminiscent of the May 20th Sunday Gospel readings celebrating the Ascension, where Jesus Christ exhorted his apostles, Mike told the graduates to “Go into the world and proclaim the Gospel.”

 “To whom much has been given, much is expected,” he reminded the graduates.

During the Mass that opened the ceremony, the graduates presented symbols of the four formation pillars during the offertory.  A crucifix was presented to symbolize the spiritual pillar; a compass to symbolize human virtue development via the guidance of a well-formed conscience; a lighted candle to symbolize the apostolic pillar as
Everest graduation
Patrick Nalepa, recipient of the Integer Award for Everest Collegiate Boys' High School, addresses his classmates and guests
the graduates were urged to go out and be “lights” in the world; and a textbook to symbolize the academic aspect of the graduates’ formation.

Fr. Luis Garza LC, Territorial Director of the Legion of Christ for North America, celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass, and Everest chaplain Fr. Lorenzo Gomez LC and high school formation director Fr. Daniel Pajerski LC, concelebrated.

Robert Mylod, the former Chairman of Michigan National Corporation, who was instrumental in starting the Fr. Lorenzo Gomez Scholarship fund for students attending Everest Collegiate, gave the keynote address.  He told the students to emulate the great St. Athanasius, who combated the Arian heresy during the time of the council of the Catholic Church in the fourth century.  He said St. Athanasius was known as “Contra Mundi” meaning “Against the World.”  He told the students to be “Contra Mundis” as they do their part to transform the world.

Also addressing the audience, which gathered under the sunshine on a beautiful spring day under a the large white tent on the football field of the school campus, were the two valedictorians – Miranda Ferguson for the girls’ high school, and Sam Bellestri for the boys’ high school.  

Students Mikayla Thibodeau and Patrick Nalepa, recipients of the Integer Award, also spoke.  The Integer award recognizes students who have demonstrated exceptional characteristics of leadership and apostleship, assimilating the highest ideals of all four areas of Integral Formation.

Everest High School Principal Greg Reichert’s voice broke with emotion as he told the students to celebrate the future with hope, confidence and great faith.

“I am so proud to have served you,” he said. “Remember your faith, the lessons taught to you, the advice and wisdom of your teachers, and stay true to your alma mater.”

(Photos courtesy of Dziekonski Photography)



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