Sunday, August 25, 2013

Julie's Victory Lap

Part 5:  Graduation!

     As with most of the Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Washington, AHC's commencement takes place at the largest Roman Catholic Church in North America, The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  A beautiful and appropriate place to celebrate the 145th class of LOTAs, this Basilica is built on the
grounds of the Catholic University of America.

  The evening before graduation, Holy Cross families gathered for the Baccalaureate Mass held at Holy Redeemer Church in Kensington.  It was a beautiful celebration of faith and included a presentation of symbolic gifts by members of the class. From a class portrait to sports equipment, the foot of the altar was covered.  Julie presented a candle alongside two other LOTAs, symbolizing the light of knowledge.  Why knowledge?

   It had been revealed to us a few days prior to graduation that Julie had been selected with two other students, to be Salutatorian.  An honor and a privilege,
Julie enjoyed graduation even differently than expected.  Along with this title, Julie was able to take part by beginning the commencement with the opening prayer.  She was later honored at the altar with a commemorative glass plaque!

     The graduation ceremony itself was one for our record books.  It featured the emotional procession of the ladies in white caps and gowns.  There were several musical pieces performed and the class of 1963, within which is a graduate whom we all know and love, Sister Sharon Ann Mihm CSC - the Catholic School Principal who gave me my start teaching Kindergarten at Immaculata Catholic School in Durham North Carolina many years ago.  Sister Sharon is a Holy Cross Sister and has been a Principal for a number of
years in Montgomery County.  This was a wonderful surprise for all of us, on a day that was full of surprises!

   In the proud presence of Julie's Grandparents, Parents, and Lisa and Peter, Julie received an award that for us was the true capstone of her time at Holy Cross:  The Cardinal James Hickey Award. It's description and the reason she received it is stated as follows:

     The Cardinal Hickey Award is given in recognition of one’s
personal efforts to live the Catholic faith through its teachings and principles.
     The 2013 Cardinal Hickey Award recipient, Juliana Desiree Balla, has an impressive record of dedication to volunteer service, having used her time and talents to serve many different constituencies. Juliana has maintained an impressive academic record for the past four years and is an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme candidate. She is a member of both the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society. Most notably, she has also been a four-year member of the Academy’s Honor Board including serving as President. Juliana also shares her talents with the school community through her involvement with the Performing Arts Department and she has served as Treasurer of the International Thespian Society.
     However, it is her dedication to community services that makes Juliana extraordinary. She recently received the Sancta Crux Award for Christian Service Commitment by performing over 350 hours of community service. Much of this work has taken place in China where she has traveled with her family every summer since eighth grade.
     She lives true to the mission of The Academy of the Holy Cross as a woman of courage, compassion and scholarship. Undoubtedly, she will bring her kindness and determination as she joins the Class of 2017 at the University of Southern California where she has received the University Scholarship.

     There are really no words, except, "Congratulations, Julie, we are so proud of you!

~Desi

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