The Class of 2017 will graduate the first Sunday in June. The official kickoff, however, was the fourth Wednesday in May, when the seniors, their parents, and the entire school gathered to celebrate the Baccalaureate Mass and Honors Convocation.

It’s more circumstance than pomp. A family affair.

This is my second year as a senior parent, my daughter having graduated last year and my son graduating this year. Of all the senior-related events, this one is my favorite. It justifies the journey and lays to rest any doubts.

Is Catholic school the best choice? Is it worth the financial sacrifice? Can a small school adequately prepare a child for college and career?

Yes. Yes. And, yes.

This year Bishop Paul Bradley celebrated the Mass. Our seniors entered the church before him, two by two, in their caps and gowns. Students, staff, and alumni smiled, while parents crane their necks and snapped the first of many pictures.

Bishop Bradley gave a beautiful homily to the seniors about remembering where they came from and staying connected to Jesus no matter where they’re going. These are messages they have heard all their lives.

Together we shared the Eucharist and crossed ourselves after the final blessing.

Directly afterward – well, after pictures, pictures, and more pictures – everyone gathered in the parish center for the Honors Convocation. Awards, pins, plaques and certificates lined the tables at the front of the room. The buzz of conversation and congratulations fell only when Fr. Simon Majooran called everyone to prayer.

One by one, teachers and community leaders took the podium. They recognized students for academics and service. They gave scholarships and departmental awards. They offered their congratulations.

This is more than a list of names and polite clapping. This is personal, especially when it comes to awarding the BCACS Foundation scholarships. Often it is alumni or family of alumni who founded these scholarships. Often these families present the award themselves, their dedication to the school echoing through their comments. Often we remember those we lost, putting down our cameras to dab our eyes.

The clapping is heartfelt. Every name, every time.

After Fr. Simon closed with prayer, the buzz returned in earnest, as fresh congratulations were said, not just to one, but to all. There’s no inner circle here.

The Class of 2017 was offered $3.1 million in scholarships, a staggering number on the shoulders of 38 kids. But these kids stand on the shoulders of hundreds, stretching back 100 years to St. Philip’s first graduating class in 1917. Most importantly, they stand on the shoulders of Christ.

It’s a family affair.

The Class of 2017 was offered over $3.1 million in scholarships. That’s a new record!

Convocation highlights are below. Check out our “Senior Spotlight” blogs to learn more about these amazing seniors.

Class of 2017 Highlights:

  • This class completed over 1,000 hours of community service this year.
  • Twenty seniors completed the St. Philip Senior Internship Program, while others completed internship programs at the Calhoun Area Career Center and the Battle Creek Area Math and Science Center.
  • Seven seniors dual-enrolled in college classes.
  • Fifteen seniors enrolled in AP classes at St. Philip, with more taking AP classes at the Battle Creek Area Math and Science Center.
  • This class received an average 1130 on the SAT; 14 qualify for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship (1200 or higher on the SAT).
  • The average passing score for seniors taking AP tests in 2016 was 86%.
  • All seniors completed a Senior Capstone project, with three moving on to compete in the finals.
  • This class has a senior aspiring to be a priest and another senior aspiring to be a nun.
  • This class has a Kellogg Community College Gold Key Scholar and a Trustee Scholar.
  • Several seniors received athletic scholarships and will continue to play their sport at the college level.
  • We have a senior who won a state-level culinary competition. She will represent Michigan in the national competition this June.

“Oh, the places they’ll go!”

  • Alma College (1 student)
  • Grand Rapids Community College (1 student)
  • Grand Valley State University (1 student)
  • Indiana State University (1 student)
  • Kalamazoo College (2 students)
  • Kellogg Community College (15 students)
  • Michigan State University (1 student)
  • Mississippi State University (1 student)
  • Siena Heights University (1 student)
  • Spring Arbor University (1 student)
  • St. Thomas Aquinas College (1 student)
  • University of Dayton (1 student)
  • University of Michigan (5 students)
  • University of Nebraska – Lincoln (1 student)
  • Western Michigan University (3 students)
  • Military (2 students)
Senior Spotlight: Hannah Pearl, Tim Minier, Nina Winkler, & Ian Mullis
Senior Spotlight: Joey Gallaway, Emily Cutshall, Jacob Janofski, & Chelsea Kubasiak
Questions? Call Cathy Erskine at 269.963.1131