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On Sunday, June 5, Mount St. Mary Academy graduated its 85th class. In keeping with school tradition, the young women of the Class of 2016 walked across the school’s auditorium stage wearing long white gowns and carrying bouquets of red roses to receive their diplomas from Principal Dawn Hurley Riggie ’71.

Attendees of the ceremony, who included members of the Mount St. Mary Board of Trustees, faculty, students and family, were welcomed by Salutatorian, Emma Murphy, and addressed by Valedictorian, Ting Gao.

“Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are a few of the basic elements that make up the stars. Coincidentally, these same elements are present in the human body — in us,” says Gao, who plans to study biomedical engineering at Yale University.

“So – it doesn’t matter which colleges we are going to next year, or what career paths we are pursuing or how much money we’ll make in the future — we are all worthy and successful and brilliant in our own way — because we are all inherently stars.”

Commencement speaker, Dr. Davina Moss-King ’86, president and founder of Positive Direction and Associates, Inc. addressed the graduates. Moss-King encouraged the graduates to tackle their future plans with flexibility and patience.

“There are many short-term goals, hurdles and hoops to jump through before you get to your long-term goals,” Dr. Moss-King stated.

“If you end up going in a different direction than you planned, it’s ok. It’s just a small delay on the way to your long-term goal”

As part of the ceremony, the Mount St. Mary Award was bestowed on Buffalo resident Hanni Htat, who was selected by her peers and faculty. This award is the highest honor given to a graduating senior in recognition of her service to the school and others, Christian spirit of love, tolerance, loyalty and cooperation, and deep respect for all members of the Mount St. Mary family.

The graduating class took the stage for the last time as Mount St. Mary students to sing the Alma Mater, “The Bells of St. Mary.” Their voices joined with those of all alumnae in attendance.

This year’s graduating class earned over $18 million in scholarships from colleges and universities throughout the nation, an average of over $207,000 per student. Over 90% of the class earned scholarship offers.

Class Valedictorian Ting Gao, a resident of Tonawanda, earned over $400,000 in scholarship offers. Williamsville resident Emma Murphy, the 2016 Salutatorian, received over $500,000 in scholarships.

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