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St. Joseph Academy graduates first senior class in new incarnation
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St. Joseph Academy graduates first senior class in new incarnation

St. Joseph Academy graduation Thursday, June 11, 2021 at Kathedral in Hammonton.

St. Joseph Academy’s first graduates are recognized Thursday night during a ceremony in Hammonton.

HAMMONTON — “Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat,” valedictorian Kascianna Corona told her classmates Thursday night during the first graduation event for the reincarnated St. Joseph Academy.

Although, that almost wasn’t the case.

When the Camden Diocese announced last spring it would permanently close St. Joseph High School at the end of the 2020 school year, parents, students and alumni rallied to save the school. Eventually, without the support of the diocese, St. Joe’s was successful and opened as a high school academy in the fall.

Thursday’s graduation was a milestone for the new St. Joe’s, and the students recognized it.

Corona, standing on the stage at Kathedral, an event center in what used to be St. Martin’s Church, said the senior class was there together Thursday because it had faith, loyalty and determination.

“Our class has overcome so many obstacles this year, just to get to where we are,” she said. “As the first graduating class of St. Joseph Academy, I say that we set the bar pretty high for the next classes, especially after all we went through to get here.”

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School President Nicola Howard said Thursday was a night to “focus and celebrate on the resilience and accomplishments of our 2021 senior class.”

“Today is for you, today is your day,” Howard told the graduates. “You overcame many obstacles with confidence, grace and dignity. You worked hard every day to show your greatness.”

Salutatorian Samuel Matro compared the struggles of St. Joe’s over the last year to the character of Andy in “The Shawshank Redemption.”

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things,” Matro said. “And no good thing ever dies.”

Matro thanked the supporters of the academy who were able to save the school.

“I’m thrilled to stand here today graduating from a school that I thought was going to close,” he said. “We all experienced adversities this year. But we stubbornly refused to give in. And now we stand here today eager to take on the next challenge.”

Contact Claire Lowe: 609-272-7251

Twitter @clairelowe

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