‘We can always come home to Joe’

St. Joseph's Commencement Exercises in Trumbull, Conn., on Saturday June 1, 2019. — Christian Abraham, Hearst Connecticut Media

Graduation speeches tend to make analogies. The graduating class is like a family, or a team. To St. Joseph High School Salutatorian Christopher Rossetti of Seymour, the Class of 2019 is a garden.
“Four years ago we came here and planted ourselves in a new environment,” Rossetti told the other 196 graduates at the school’s 53rd commencement Saturday. “We took root, and made friends. Now our garden flourishes.”
Rossetti, who knew two people in the entire building when he first entered the school, said he and his classmates had grown much over the past four years, and would continue to do so.
“But I hope we never grow apart,” he said.
Head of School William Fitzgerald, speaking to the class for the last time gathered as a group, congratulated the school’s sports teams for beating New Canaan in football, again. And winning a state championhsip, again. The baseball and lacrosse seasons are continuing, with the seniors’ athletic careers continuing into the playoffs even as they are now school alumni.
Fitzgerald also took time to congratulate the school’s softball team. The FCIAC champs saw their season end in the state quarterfinals.
“You finished 24-1...and were disappointed,” he said. “What an accomplishment.”
But Fitzgerald’s true passion is academics, he said. And the graduates stood out there too, garnering millions of dollars in academic grants and scholarships.
“We may not send many defensive tackles to Notre Dame, but we send them a lot of students,” he said.
Fitzgerald also commented on the current political climate in the country, urging the Class of 2019 to attack poverty ferociously and to be tireless stewards of the environment.
“Whether or not this climate change thing is real, fix it,” he said. “We need this planet.”
He also couldn’t resist a little non-political advice, reminding the graduates to “be nice to little kids and old people.”
In her remarks, Trumbull First Selectman Vicki Tesoro said the presence of the small private school within Trumbull’s borders had challenged the town’s public school system to be better. The rivalry betwee Trumbull High and St. Joseph was a model for what she said was the political ideal as the two schools competed academidcally and athletically with spirit and intensity, but also with respect and appreciation, she said.
The challenge of competing against a rival had prepared them well for the future, she said.
“Every generation faces challenges,” she said. “Yours will be no exception.”
Taking the microphone as the final speaker of the ceremony, Valedictorian Anna Argulian returned to Rossetti’s theme. But instead of a garden, Argulian saw the graduates as an airport diagram.
“You know, with, ‘You are here’ in the middle and the lines branching out to all the places the airline flies to,” she said.
But the same lines that demonstrated how the school’s newest alumni would branch out across the world, could also show them the way home, she said.
“Whether [our life] is flowers and sunshine, or showers and storms, we can always come home to Joe,” she said.