St. Mary’s Ryken Class of 2015 Speaker Rand Duarte

St. Mary’s City, MD — St. Mary’s Ryken (SMR) High School, the only Catholic high school in Southern Maryland, held its 34th commencement exercise Tuesday, May 26 at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. The Leonardtown school’s ceremony was the first of four high school graduations on consecutive nights at the college.

School president Mary Joy Hurlburt told the 165 graduating seniors that they had amassed $17 million in scholarships and grants to colleges and universities. That included 189 acceptances to colleges in 32 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. She said 64 percent of the graduating students took four years of math and science courses.

Hurlburt noted that the Class of 2015 had accumulated 15,000 hours of service to organizations in the community. She said the students are taking with them the Xaverian value of “a world dedicated to service.” The school is sponsored by the Xaverian Brothers.

Hurlburt asked the students over the next few months to reflect “about the way you have been transformed over the past four years by God’s grace.” She added, “Whether your dreams become reality or failure, remember God is always with you.”

“May God bless you each and every day for the rest of your life,” Hurlburt concluded.

Class of 2015 Speaker was Rand Duarte, who has a long list of academic and athletic accomplishments, according to SMR Principal Rick Wood. Duarte, who will be attending Stanford University, thanked everyone at the school and especially several who mentored her during her time at SMR. And she deadpanned, “I am honored to be the last lecturer of your high school career.”

Duarte said what she most admired about SMR was the diversity of backgrounds of her classmates. She said of those experiences, “They will help you be successful in a rapidly expanding global economy.”

The class speaker observed that her classmates will now be thrust into a world where everything will be an elective instead of a “core curriculum.” She advised them to take the abilities they have been given and their experiences from Ryken and use them to the fullest, and if they fall down, get up again.

The following awards were presented during the commencement:

• Sr. Sara Ann Abell, SCN, Service Award to Katherine “Kate” Dowdle, who will be attending Villanova University
• Brother Edward Driscoll, CFX, Service Award to Alfonzo Nazzaro, who will be attending Cornell University.
• St. Mary’s Ryken Knight Awards to John Winslow who will be entering the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Stanislaus Kostka, and Elise Carney, who will be attending Christendom College.
• Brother Lambert Academic Achievement Award to Katerina Pappas, who will be attending Drexel University.
• Cardinal’s Citizenship Award also to Elise Carney
• Xaverian Award to Trent Hall who will be attending Frostburg State University.

St. Mary’s Ryken was formed with the merger of the former St. Mary’s Academy, an all-girl’s school whose campus now houses the College of Southern Maryland, and Ryken High School, an all-boys school. Each year the commencement not only honors senior graduates but brings back graduates from the landmark 25th and 50th anniversaries.

This year members of the St. Mary’s Academy and Ryken High School classes of 1965 and the St. Mary’s Ryken Class of 1990 were honored with gold and silver awards. The awards were presented by Hurlburt and Chairman of the SMR Board of Trustee Leonard Raley (Class of 1974) who is also president and CEO of the University System of Maryland Foundation.

The St. Mary’s Ryken Band directed by Andrew Smouse performed the traditional Pomp and Circumstance as the seniors and the representative of the previous graduating classes entered the auditorium.

Invocation was provided by Rev. Peter Giovanoni of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Ridge and Benediction was performed by Rev. Charles Gallagher of Our Lady of the Wayside Church in Chaptico.

Diplomas were handed out by Hurlburt and Dean of Academics Barbara Ives.

Contact Dick Myers at

Please enjoy the Photo Galley from the graduation by Mike Wilson