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Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School celebrated its second graduating class with a Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, June 5, on campus in the Mary Help of Christians Gymnasium.

The second graduating class is comprised of thirty-three students. One-hundred percent of the graduates were accepted into 60 colleges and universities across the United States, earning $2.3 million in scholarships. Graduates are going on to St. Mary’s College (Notre Dame, In), Florida Gulf Coast University, St. Leo University, Southeastern University, and the University of South Florida, to name a few.

Students and their families, clergy, faculty, staff, and Corporate Work Study Partners filled the Gym to make the first on campus ceremony a memorable occasion for the graduates. Cristo Rey Tampa Board Chair and Commencement speaker Jeff Sparling shared with the Class of 2021 to remember to pay it forward. Each of us will give back in different ways, but the main point is to give back either in terms of your time, talents, or treasures. Don’t forget those who helped you get to where you are today,” said Sparling.

The unique component of the Cristo Rey® model, the Corporate Work Study Program, also took center stage when CWSP supervisors introduced the Valedictorian and Co-Salutatorians. After all, CWSP supervisors play an integral role in a student’s high school journey serving as a role model, teacher, and mentor, and are part of the Cristo Rey Tampa family.

Ms. Therese Alonso from Nativity Catholic School joined us via audio, introducing Co-salutatorian Cydmarie Fernadez, who will attend Southeastern University. She shared how Cydmarie was kind and caring and how her resilience shined in the throes of a pandemic. Cydmarie reflected on her time at Cristo Rey Tampa and how the past year shaped the Class of 2021. She left her classmates with highlights of Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality and reminded them to keep the highlights in mind from this day forward.

Ms. Laura Cole of AdventHealth introduced Co-salutatorian Daniela Nuñez, who plans to attend the University of Tampa. Ms. Cole said, “Daniela came to us with interest in Art Therapy. Her artistic abilities go beyond the abilities that most of us have. Her love and compassion for others guides her and will continue to guide her in helping others in the healing process.” Daniela expressed that high school was about creating new paths and that the Class of 2021 had learned values, lifelong lessons, and carved new pathways. “Thank you to the staff, clergy, and Corporate Work Study Partners for preparing us for the unknown,” said the Co-Salutatorian.

Mrs. Katharine Ramirez from Nativity Catholic School introduced the 2021 Valedictorian Laura Ramirez-Garcia via video. Mrs. Ramirez asked the graduates to remember, “Behind you are all of your memories. Before you are all of your dreams, around you are all those who love you and within you is all you need.” As the graduates were soaking in Mrs. Ramirez sentiments, the second Valedictorian in the school’s history was called to the stage. Laura, who plans to attend the University of South Florida, reflected on what it was like to move from Puerto Rico, transfer to a new school, and thanked her classmates for their honesty and support.

Congratulations to the Class of 2021! This was another amazing day in the history of Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School. #CRTProud

Photos: Joe Photo Tampa