The graduation ceremony for Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep had all the customary pomp and circumstance, but it also featured a series of firsts.DSC_3119

For starters, this was its largest graduation in its 10-year history, with 60 seniors receiving their diplomas. Of those, 83-percent of the students who started as freshmen, graduated — as compared to seven years ago, when only 38-percent of the freshmen who started, graduated.

What’s more, for most of these graduates, they were the first members of their family to receive a secondary education.

But they’re not done yet. Nearly every graduate is heading to college, with this year’s co-valedictorians headed to College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass; and Agnes Scott College, an all-women’s institution near Atlanta. Other choices include Marquette, Emory and Bucknell universities.

“There is no doubt in our minds, that these students are going to go out and make a mark in the world,” said Principal Michael Odiotti.WP1_3906

Fr. John Milton, CSV, continues to serve as an adjunct physics teacher. He concelebrated the baccalaureate Mass with Fr. Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., president of Loyola University in Chicago, before joining members of the three endorsing communities of the school — to give graduates a final blessing.

 The Viatorian Community was one of the first religious congregations to support the school when it opened in 2004. Its members have served on the faculty, in administration and on its board of trustees, all while helping to financially support the school and its mission of providing a college prepartory education to students with limited financial means.