Class Valedictorian Mary Gogoladze gave this heartfelt speech during the Class of 2017’s graduation ceremony on June 16:
“When I was three-years-old, I went with my brother to Georgia in Eastern Europe where we lived for two years. My parents were students during this time and my family in Georgia took care of us to help. By the time I turned five-years-old, I was back in New York and it was time for me to start Kindergarten.
Since I was in Georgia for so long, I had forgotten English, so it was hard to find a school that I liked. My mother was about to give up and just have me start school in first grade, but then my dad mentioned St. Patrick’s.
I reluctantly went and expected the same things that happened at all the other schools: kids I didn’t know would talk to me in a language I didn’t understand. When I arrived for my visit at St. Patrick, it was snack time, but I didn’t have any food. I wanted to leave as soon as possible. Then, a boy came up to me and gave me a green apple. So, I stayed, ate the apple, and asked my mother to bring me back the next day. Later I learned that the boys name was Stephen, and so hes technically why and how my journey at St. Patrick started.
My nine years at St. Patrick were filled with the love and care of all of my teachers. I want to say a special thanks to Mrs. McGivney, who when I was in fifth grade, gave me the confidence, self-esteem, and a love of reading that I will always appreciate.
Around the end of fifth grade, I started reading books about middle school life. All of them had the same idea: that middle school was a place where cliques form, teachers are mean, and you’re sad because you weren’t as popular or as smart as you wanted to be. I can tell the younger kids here that Mrs. Gammone, Mrs. Shapiro, and Mrs. Keenan proved that middle school is nothing like that, and for the most part, its a very nice place to be.
My story at St. Patrick’s is a clear example of what Catholic education and inclusiveness is about. I would like to thank all the people who made it possible for me: Mrs. D’Emic, Ms. Curatolo, and Msgr. Hardiman.
Finally, one of the biggest things St. Patrick gave to me and my friends is hope. Hope that the Earth is a great place to live in and to explore your potential. Hope that no matter how unknown, difficult, and complicated life can be, there will always be a stranger with a kind heart and a green apple (or the equivalent of a green apple) to help you and make life easier. Thank you very much.”
Mary will be attending the United Nations International School in the fall.