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Class of 2022 Prepared to "Go Forth and Set the World on Fire"

2022 graduates cheering

Graduates of the Class of 2022 cheering after receiving their diplomas at commencement on June 1, 2022 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Members of the class of 2022, their families, Fordham Prep faculty, staff, and trustees gathered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on June 1st to celebrate the culmination of another challenging yet perseverant school year amidst a global pandemic.

This is the second time that commencement exercises were held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is also the final resting place of Fordham Prep founder Archbishop John Hughes.  Hughes also personally laid the cornerstone of the cathedral 17 years after founding Fordham Prep, as outgoing President Rev. Christopher J. Devron, SJ noted in his speech later that afternoon.

Principal Joseph Petriello PhD, ‘98, opened the exercises, which included the singing of the national anthem, and an invocation by Rev. Vincent Marchionni, SJ. It was then that student-selected graduation speaker Arison Cruz took his place on the altar.

“I am proud to be counted in such a talented group of men,” Cruz began. After noting the strangeness and unforeseen circumstances that were prevalent during the latter half of their time at the Prep due to the pandemic, he reminisced on some of the highlights from his high school years.

The church filled with laughter as he told the story of Prep students erupting in cheers on March 12th, 2020 when Principal Petriello’s voice came over the intercom to announce the switch to remote learning via Zoom. Cruz then asked for a moment of silence for those who lost their lives to COVID-19.

Cruz compared his class to the servant in Parable of the Talents, stating that “during those strange times it would have been so easy for [the class of 2022] to bury their talents.” He went on to say that he and his classmates ”chose to be like the other two servants, not giving up what was given to us and working to gain even more.” 

He then spoke about his class’ resilience as well as their bond, and paid tribute to several of the Prep’s faculty members. 

Cruz remembered his first day of summer football practice and how coaches Lou Barahona '85 and Charles Ray ‘88 taught him and his teammates the importance of trying new things, finding new talents, and building each other up. He looked back on his time on the Track & Field team learning self-discipline, grit, and perseverance from coaches George Febles P’15 ‘22, Ed Jennings P’08 ‘10’14, and Gerry Sullivan ‘92 P’21. He recalled learning what it means to be human and examining masculinity in Religious Studies teacher David Gelpi P‘12’s class. He also remembered learning how to speak Spanish through Modern Languages teacher Russell Baker’s method of listening to the latest Latin hit songs and watching Netflix shows.  

Arison Cruz was chosen by his classmates to speak during the 2022 Commencement Exercises. 

His speech ended with a reflection on the service work he had performed alongside his peers throughout the years and recognition for the tools that the Prep has given the Class of 2022 to develop and discover their physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual talents.

“We have all been given so much by so many. It is now time to uproot and take those lessons on our journey beyond the walls of the Prep,” said Cruz before adding the popular Ignatian phrase, “go forth and set the world on fire.”

The ceremony coincided with the last day of Fr. Christopher Devron, SJ’s Fordham Prep presidency.

“If John Hughes were here today, speaking to you, the Class of 2022, I think he would tell you three things,” Fr. Devron said to the graduates at commencement. The graduates listened closely as he told them to keep the faith, live and learn, and love one another.

Read Fr. Devron’s 2022 Commencement Remarks

Toward the end of the ceremony, Principal Petriello recognized the retiring faculty that were present (Dennis Ahern '63 P'01, Bill Bozzone P'00, and Tony Tartaglia P'94 '99) as well as Rev. Stanley O’Konsky, SJ for their combined 191 years of service to the Prep. 

2022 commencement retirees tartaglia ahern and bozzone

 Math teacher Tony Tartaglia P'94 '99 (left) Assistant Principal of Professional Development & Supervision Dennis Ahern '63 P'01 (middle) and Social Studies teacher Bill Bozzone P'00 (right) were each gifted Ram sculptures during the 2022 Commencement.

View the 2022 Commencement Photo Gallery
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Wednesday, June 1st, marked the last day of Fr. Devron’s tenure as president of Fordham Prep. After the commencement exercises for the Class of 2022, a reception was held by the Board of Trustees in Fr. Devron’s honor. Chairman Mario Ciampi ‘78 and former chairmen John Neary '87, Jim Rowen ‘82, and Paul Brusco ‘82 paid tributes to the outgoing president, commending him for his leadership skills and pastoral abilities, especially during the challenging times of the COVID pandemic.

The group then presented Fr. Devron with two gifts—a memory quilt made of Fordham Prep athletic t-shirts and a plate engraved with the names of the Jesuit schools he has and will serve as president. 

During the event, Ciampi announced the establishment of the new Rev. Christopher J. Devron, SJ REACH Scholarship. This endowed scholarship will continue to support Fordham Prep students who attended the REACH (Recruiting Excellence in Academics for Catholic High Schools) program and will honor Fr. Devron’s legacy and dedication to providing equal access to a Fordham Prep education for all. Fr. Devron founded the program in 2002 while he was assigned to Regis High School. Alumni and friends of Fordham Prep, in tribute to Fr. Devron’s transformative tenure have already pledged over $1.2 million dollars to the scholarship.  

Current and former chairmen of the board with Fr. Devron holding proclamation of Rev. Christopher Devron REACH Scholarship

L-R: Former Chairmen of the Board of Trustees John Neary '87, Bill Mulrow ‘74, and Jim Rowen ‘82, Fr. Christopher Devron, Current Board of Trustees Chairman Mario Ciampi ‘78, Former Chairmen of the Board of Trustees Paul Brusco ‘82 and Kevin Hackett ‘67. 

As the class of 2022 and others before them have proven with college commitments to NYU, Princeton, Cornell, Boston College, Tufts, Georgetown, Notre Dame, and more, the value of a Fordham Prep education has the potential to be life-changing.

“When I think about this scholarship,” Fr. Devron stated, “I think of REACH Scholar Arison Cruz, our speaker today at graduation.” Cruz, a native of the Bronx, will attend Colgate University in the fall. 

“Thanks to your generosity, we’ve been able to do a fantastic job opening the doors of Fordham Prep to students from families of all income levels,” Fr. Devron continued. “I’m so honored that you would think to name this after me. It brings me great joy to think that we have a way of opening the doors wider for students like those John Hughes fought to defend.”

To contribute to the Rev. Christopher J. Devron, SJ REACH Scholarship please visit: 

fordhamprep.org/giving/REACH

Reception Photo Gallery