DANVERS — On Saturday morning, 272 diplomas were conferred as St. John’s Prep held the commencement ceremony for its graduating seniors, of which 17 were Marblehead residents.
Taking place under a tent on Ryken Field at the school’s campus, the threat of rain didn’t put a damper on the school’s 113th commencement.
Graduates Thomas Healey, of Peabody, and Leyad Zavriyev, of Swampscott, came together for a joint speech at the beginning of the ceremony, where they reflected on their favorite memories over the last four years. The speech heavily focused on the impact the pandemic had on the Class of 2023, as it began halfway through their freshman year. Zavriyev said he was grateful for the challenges and new perspectives that St. John’s Prep provided.
“Without St. John’s, I would not have had so many opportunities to be so healthily challenged and engaged by my friends with vastly different political and religious views,” Zavriyev said.
At the end of their speech, Healey advised the class to take chances, and enjoy the process in doing so.
“To the Class of 2023, be bold, take risks, and have fun,” Healey said. “To our peers, families, faculty, and staff, know that we love you and appreciate you all immensely.”
This fall, Healey will be attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst, while Zavriyev will study at Brown University.
The two were chosen as class speakers by Jonathan R. Rodriguez, of Lawrence, who was the class valedictorian. Rodriguez’s mother immigrated from the Dominican Republic, and his father migrated from Puerto Rico, according to a press release from the Prep.
In his speech, Rodriguez focused on the importance of family and how his fellow graduates should not only develop their own legacy, but preserve and continue their families’ legacies.
“We must choose to live for things that will outlive us,” Rodriguez said. “My family has taught me not only with their words, but also with their sacrifices that, whether I succeed or fail spectacularly, this moment is not the end.”
He continued by asking how the Class of ’23 will prepare themselves for the future.
“Following their footsteps, I must learn to live not only for my own future, but for the future of my family as well,” he said. “We have gathered here today to celebrate our past and to face each of our futures. How will you choose to shape yours?”
Class Salutatorian Jackson Belanger introduced student-selected keynote speaker Bill Britton. Britton is a retiring social-studies teacher who served in the Vietnam War as a Marine Corps tank commander. He gave remarks to the graduating class inspired by his military service and experience.
“You go forward from this sacred ground into a world where you will be tested, but you go with distinct advantages” said Britton. “You are armed, not with the weapons of war, but with principles that can guide you in moments of moral jeopardy.”
His speech continued by focusing on how the graduates will face new challenges and learn from them.
“You will make mistakes. Own up to them. You will choose wrong paths. Change directions,” Britton said. “Pay the price to put yourself on a path to happiness, because your joy will be compelling, and you will have the opportunity to make the world a better place for all with whom you come in contact.”
Of the 272 graduates, 53 percent are members of the National Honor Society and 11 are National Merit Scholar-commended students. Rodriguez and Zavriyev, along with Matthew A.P. Dunn, of Danvers, and Brian T. Nguyen, of Melrose, were NMS Finalists.
Thirty students were legacy graduates this year, meaning their fathers, grandfathers, or great-grandfathers attended the Prep.
Additionally, 38 Eagles signed national letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level.
The following is a complete list of Marblehead graduates, complete with their distinctions:
* National Honor Society
Colin John Berg
Matthew Benjamin Bernstein,* Academic Excellence
Andrew William Bianculli
Collin Mather Burke*
Tyler Joseph Callahan,* Art 3D Medal
Patrick Finn Dever, Campus Ministry Award, Honorable Mention Scholastic Art & Writing Award for Photography
Lucien Robert Elmer *
Ethan Jordan Kaye
Patrick Angus McDonald
Ian William Mertens
Callum B. Rigby
William Hills Schieffer,* National Merit Commended Student, English Medal, Computer Science Medal
Theo Jones Scola, Chinese Medal
Jackson Neal Selby,* National Merit Commended Student
Charles Patrick Smith
Jack Emerson Stein,* Science Medal
Zachary M. Verdun*