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2023 Graduation

One hundred fifty-three incredible young women received their diplomas from Mr. Jason Schlereth, president; Miss Kerry Carroll ’04, principal; and Mrs. Alice Rogers P’07, ’09, ’13 and Mrs. Maureen Layng, assistant principals. Including the members of this year’s graduating class, eleven thousand twenty-two young women now carry the title of IHA alumna.

Graduates processed into the gymnasium to Pomp and Circumstance played by the IHA Orchestra. After a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem sung by Kaitlyn DeMartini ’23 (University of South Carolina - Columbia) the ceremony opened with Erin Shepler ’23 (Bucknell University), Student Council president, offering the invocation and Johanna Murphy ’23 (Duke University), salutatorian, giving a thoughtful welcoming address. Johanna said that while she was writing her speech, she realized the number of cherished memories she will continue to hold close to her heart. “I want to thank all my classmates for sharing them with me, like the time we sat flabbergasted and silent the first time we heard the senior chant after Mass, to just a few weeks ago when we sang it loudly and proudly on the final day of school,” she reflected. “I’ll always remember my transformative experience at Midnight Run this year and dancing with you all at prom. I’ll even cherish the less great memories because they inevitably taught me something valuable.”

Ms. Meghan Kehoe, an alumna from IHA’s Class of 2004 and head of media at Sony Music Nashville, served as Commencement Speaker, addressing the graduating class with an encouraging speech. “To say IHA prepared me for the next phases of my life is an understatement,” she said. “I always thought we had it harder than the boys’ schools, but man, I’m sure glad we did because it prepared me to face the challenges life was going to throw at me. From the teachers to the staff to the women I went through school with, each gave me a sense of purpose and a confidence that surfaced over time and became so much a part of who I am.”

Diplomas and special awards were then distributed to members of the Class of 2023. We invited alumna mothers to present diplomas to their graduating daughters, a tradition IHA will continue for years to come. Mothers who distributed diplomas to their daughters included Dolores Martinez Byrnes ’90 P’23, ’26 to Maria Byrnes ’23; Allison Stapienski Dalessandro ’87 P’23, ’25 to Faith Dalessandro ’23; Gena Caputo DeVirgilio ’94 P’23, ’25 to Julia DeVirgilio ’23; Jacqueline Linares ’87 P’23 to Lauren Grae ’23; Lisa Esposito Lapp ’90 P’23 to Chelsea Lapp ’23; Linda LaVoie-Martino ’87 P’08, ’21, ’23 to Anabella Martino ’23; Raelene Kunz McKay ’94 P’21, ’23 to Madison McKay ’23; Jamie Fazio Menake ’90 P’23 to Kate Menake ’23; Margaret Coyne Minogue ’85 P’23 to Meghan Minogue ’23; Eva Vidaic Signore ’88 P’23 to Olivia Morrison ’23; Kerry DePalma Portilla ’96 P’23 to Emma Portilla ’23; Patricia English Sweeney ’92 P’23 to Mary-Kathryn Sweeney ’23; Brielle Boedart Tacconi ’90 P’23 to Olivia Tacconi ’23; Christine Adler Toohey ’85 P’23 to Olivia Toohey ’23; Stefanie Streeter Vicini ’83 P’23 to Kiera Vicini ’23; and Dana Schuster Wilmot ’90 P’23 to Lily Wilmot ’23.

After diplomas were presented to each graduate, several students were honored for a variety of accomplishments in and out of the classroom. We send heartfelt congratulations to the 2023 IHA Award winner, Lauren Grae ’23 (Columbia University), and the many other award and scholarship recipients recognized at this year’s Commencement Exercises.

Following the award presentation, Mr. Jason Schlereth, IHA president, addressed the graduates and guests, reminding the members of the Class of 2023 of the “things that just make sense” at IHA, as the viral social media trend highlights. “Children’s cartoon backpacks on 18 year olds; not knowing where your locker is, even as a senior; showing up in huge numbers to support your sisters as part of the Eagles Nest; nominating your sisters to be women’s history month honorees; serving others; cheating at musical chairs; really poor lip-sync performances; excellence in athletics; roller skating on the state in the school musical; making a seat and a space for everyone in the cafeteria; and my personal favorite, Sko Eags!” Mr. Schlereth shared. “Class of 2023, the bottom line is you are women who ‘just make sense’ as part of the Immaculate Heart Academy story. You were meant to be here at this moment in history, and we are all better for it.”

Class of 2023 valedictorian, Kate Menake ’23 (Northeastern University), delivered a moving farewell address recognizing the many IHA memories that will stick with her for years to come. “All of the little things might seem insignificant, but I know that I will truly miss locker break cookies next year. On top of the more mundane things, I will also miss the larger fun events that we have shared. Regardless of what your favorite IHA memory is, whether it be prom, pep rallies, or the Senior Talent Show, you can look back fondly at your time here… During college, we will all get the opportunity to make new memories and see new places, maybe even living in another country or many states away. I hope our new memories will add to our collection of positive memories from IHA.”

Kara Ignacio ’23 (Fordham University) concluded the ceremony by leading her classmates in the school’s alma mater before IHA’s newest alumnae exited the gymnasium. Members of the Class of 2023 received more than $40M in scholarship awards and will be continuing their education at some of the most esteemed colleges and universities in the country—from Boston College, Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, and Duke University to Georgia Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Purdue University, Tufts University, University of Michigan, and University of Notre Dame. Thirty students are attending Catholic institutions, fourteen students are attending schools in New Jersey, and thirty-nine percent of the class is attending colleges and universities outside of the northeast. Some of the most popular choices this year include Sacred Heart University with nine students attending, University of Tampa with seven, Rutgers University with six, University of Rhode Island with five, and Marist College, Pennsylvania State University, and Providence College with four each. One student will be studying internationally at Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts. Ninety-five percent of this class was admitted to their first or second-choice college, and one hundred percent will be attending four-year colleges.

The following awards were presented at the 2023 Commencement Exercises:

Kate Menake (Northeastern University)

Johanna Murphy (Duke University)

The IHA Award
Lauren Grae (Columbia University)

The Academic Excellence Award
Emma Dillane (University of Notre Dame)

The Sr. Beatrice Ryan Award
Emma Hanlon (Lafayette College)

The Visitation Award
Madison McKay (Bucknell University)

The Mary Ann Molinari Memorial Award
Meghan Minogue (Boston College)

The KariAnn Dellapenta Memorial Award
Mikayla Nizza (Elon University)

The Marie Sellers and Dorothy Savarese Memorial Award
Layla Libanan (Georgia Institute of Technology)

The Jeffrey E. Silver Memorial Award
Ava Naszimento (Central Connecticut State University) 

The Catherine Larkin Award
April Ramsey

The Caren Cavallo Memorial Scholarship
Brookelyn Talmadge (Bryant University)

The Marian Award
Gracyn Pisa (Wake Forest University)

The Marisa Suarez Memorial Award
Noelle Haskell (Williams College)

The Denise Gartner Memorial Award
Jessica Sundlin (College of the Holy Cross)

The Tammy Medzadourian Memorial Award
Mary-Kathryn Sweeney (Providence College)

The Herb Oberle Memorial Award
Olivia Tacconi (Salve Regina University)

The Michael Thomas Noone Memorial Award
Olivia Morrison (American University)

The Amen Award
Allison Lynch (Ohio State University)

Congratulations, IHA Class of 2023! Click here for the full photo album, courtesy of Mike Hamlett Photography.