Valley Catholic graduates 84 from high school
The 84 graduates of Valley Catholic High School in Beaverton got to hear from a 2003 graduate — Seema Mody, now a reporter for financial news channel CNBC — and from the three valedictorians in the Class of 2018.
One of them was Matthew Ierardi, a son of Principal Doug Ierardi.
"Now you might be thinking: The principal's son is one of the valedictorian — that seems a little suspect. But I would like to remind you that my older sister was not a valedictorian of her class," Matthew Ierardi said to laughter and applause Saturday, June 9. "And I thought that meant I was the favorite child."
His sister, Allison, graduated in 2016 just before their father became the high school principal that fall. Doug Ierardi came to Valley Catholic in 2010 from Regis High School in Stayton, where he was the principal four years.
One more sibling is on the way. Joseph Ierardi is in the Class of 2021. "I learned my younger brother is the actual favorite," Matthew said to more laughter.
Their mother, Monique, is an instructional assistant for third grade at the elementary school.
Matthew was the only member of his class to receive his diploma — and a hug — from his father onstage. The other graduates got their diplomas from John Matcovich, president of Valley Catholic School.
Matthew Ierardi was honored for excellence in religious studies and was a co-recipient of the creative writing award named after Nick Ferrer, a student who died in a car crash in 1998.
He also was a cross-country runner all four years, and drew comparisons between his sport and high school life.
"Most of the time, the work you put in is harder than the race itself," he said. "I find that once I start a race, the nerves disappear."
He said the middle of a race is the most exhausting — and so was the last half of his sophomore year, when he spent a few weeks in the hospital, and first part of his junior year.
But just as teammates, coaches and fans cheer on runners, he said, classmates, teachers and other staff helped him get through his recovery.
He quoted Fred Lebow, cofounder of the New York City Marathon, who said: "In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say 'I have finished." There is a lot of satisfaction in that."
"One race does not define a runner," Matthew Ierardi added. "The important thing is that we all reached the finish line together. We are standing at the end of our high school race. But we have many more races to run in our lives. I am fully confident we will all run our best."
Dana Taylor, another valedictorian, also referred to the shared caring of students, families, faculty and staff in her remarks.
"Although our time together here has run out, the influence we have had on each other remains," she said.
Taylor was student body secretary, student of the year, and a co-recipient of the academic writing award with Emilie Rose "Rosie" Parker, the third valedictorian.
Parker, who won the Spanish award, said all the graduates should strive for greatness.
"But it does not mean we will focus on what we will become," she said. "Rather, we must place our focus on who we become – and the rest will follow. Let who we are guide what we are, and never let the two reverse."
During her remarks, Parker referred to the May 26. 2017, stabbings on the MAX light-rail line that left two men dead. They attempted to shield two girls from racist and anti-Muslim slurs reportedly uttered by the stabbing suspect, who will be tried on murder charges next year.
"It is hateful words we hear on the MAX, directed toward those scapegoated by our society and corrected by nobody for fear that we may become the target," she said.
Parker said the answer lies in an embrace of diversity in society and caring for individuals.