Largest graduating class at Saint John Paul the Great

Hundreds of family and friends filled the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge for Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School's 2016 graduation ceremony. Graduates adorned in green robes and mortar boards processed into the chapel two by two as notes from "Pomp and Circumstance" competed with the clicking of cameras and smartphones.

Dominican Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, principal, welcomed the graduates and guests before calling on Grant Tabler, a graduating senior, to sing the national anthem.

After the salutatory address by Alexander LaVille, graduates were called up to the stage one by one to receive their diplomas from Sister Bernadette McManigal, retiring superintendent of schools.

As their names were called, they were met with cheers and applause - and in some cases bells and horns. The loudest round of applause came after Sister Mary Jordan called Michael Thorpe's name. Thorpe was graduating from the school's Options Program, a program for students with intellectual or cognitive disabilities.

After the closing address by valedictorian Mark Choe and the benediction by Father Bjorn C. Lundberg, chaplain, the 161 graduates processed out of the chapel and into the bright sunlight. Together the class of 2016 tossed their mortar boards high into the air marking the end of an era and the beginning of great things to come.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016