The Convent of the Sacred Heart celebrates 165th commencement


Greenwich’s Stephanie Mellert, at left, was one of the 60 graduates in the class of 2014 at the Convent of the Sacred Heart. Before entering the ceremony, each graduate-to-be was handed a bouquet of flowers by a younger student at the school. –John Ferris Robben

The Convent of the Sacred Heart held its 165th commencement on June 6, celebrating the successful matriculation of 60 young women.

Adorned in all white, the gradutes bade farewell to the school during a day that included both a baccalaureate Mass and commencement ceremony held outside of Salisbury Hall on the school’s campus. Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport led the students and their loved ones through a spiritual service featuring scriptures, and hymns from the school’s upper school students.

During his homily, Bishop Caggiano offered soothing words of guidance to the graduates as they prepared to leave the convent.

“If home is where the heart is, your home here at the Convent of the Sacred Heart will be with you every day for the rest of your life,”  he said. “Nonetheless, you are going to be taking a step out of what has been your home. Therefore, if you have any mixed feelings, then I think that’s really normal, and it’s a testimony to the love that you have for this remarkable school.”

Among those with mixed feelings was graduate Kendall Calcano, one of only three girls in the class of 2014 to have attended CSH from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, meaning she spent a total of 15 years enrolled at the school. Kendall earned a national meit commendation and graduated with high honors and will be attending Dartmouth in the fall.

“She feels sort of sad, because she hasn’t had anything else,” Calcano family friend Chuck Sahm told the Post before the ceremony began. “The service was wonderful and the bishop did a great job with the homily, really did a great job giving them some inspiration.”

The commencement’s student speakers offered inspiration as well, sharing their confidence and excitement for the future with the rest of the class. Salutatorian Margaret Ellison used humor to convey her message, fighting back tears as she reminesced about times past with her classmates. Margaret described the school as a place of “comfort and contentedness,” that will keep the graduates connected regardless of where they  go.

“Each and every member of the class of 2014 is conscientious, intelligent, compassionate, confident and gifted — she has all the qualities to be a woman leader in a world that could certainly use more,” she said during her speech. “I know that each will be successful because success is definited by happiness, and happiness comes from speading love and joy to others, something that has been fully engrained in us here.”

Valedictorians Tara Hammands and Christina Huchro alluded to literature in their respective speeches, reflecting on the impossible journey the graduates have taken since coming to Sacred Heart, and the strength of character the school has imbued within them. Though all the speeches included warm memories, the class leaders focused on the need to move forward and spread the values they learned at CSH. Tara summed up the sentiment with a quote from Alice in Wonderland saying, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

The Rev. George Winzenburg, president of the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, delivered the commencement address. The Red Cloud School and CSH have formed a close relationship in recent years, with Sacred Heart students getting involved in the Red Cloud summer program as a part of their own summer enrichment program. Mr. Winzenburg has visited the Sacred Heart campus on prior occassions, offering lectures on his role within the school and the culture of the Lakota people he works with.

“Graduates, you are each a beloved child of God,” he said, comparing each young woman’s strength to that of a lioness. “We see your beauty, we value your individuality. You have a gained a voice at Sacret Heart Greenwich. Use it. Speak bodly, prophetically, tenderly. Communicate truth, mercy and love in all you say and do. Yours is a voice the world needs to hear.”

Prior to the commencement ceremony, the graduates were each met by a member of the CSH lower school as they came out onto the lawn. There they shared a hug and a flower, a gesture that suggests a passing of the torch to the younger children. Even as the eldest women depart the school, the spirit and values of the Covenant of the Sacred Heart are shared among all its students.

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