Commencement held for Class of 2013

“Not only did Lauralton provide us with the intellect we need to succeed, but also that anchor of faith we can always fall back on if we need to climb through the trenches of life.”

–Jessica Napolitano, Valedictorian

“The special relationships formed with our teachers and peers have not only helped us achieve academic excellence, but have instilled within us the Core Values of a Mercy Education—Compassion and Service; Educational Excellence; Concern for Women and Women’s Issues; Global Vision and Responsibility; Spiritual Growth and Development and Collaboration—that will guide us through our future endeavors.” 

–Gabrielle Shkreli, Salutatorian

“Four years of draining course-loads, the earned respect and support of teachers, and copious Dunkin Donuts receipts have given each and every one of the young women in front of me the strength to face a real world staunchly different from anything they have ever experienced before. Nothing worth having lasts forever, variation is our one constant in life. So go, ladies, go and delve into the unknown waters—there is no need to fear the dark if you have the light to illuminate it."

–Rebecca Sherrick, Salutatorian

On June 2, Lauralton Hall presented diplomas to 107 young women from several towns across Connecticut. President Antoinette Iadarola, Ph.D., gave the opening and closing remarks and, along with Chairman of the Board of Trustees Michael Amato and Principal Ann Pratson, presented the graduates with their diplomas. Michael Amato also presented the Catherine McAuley Award.

The Catherine McAuley Award, Lauralton’s highest honor, is named for the Sisters of Mercy’s foundress and is given to a student for her commitment to Lauralton’s mission; her sound academic performance, her spirit of volunteerism and a value system that responds to others with compassion, courage and genuine graciousness. This year the award went to Kathleen Sullivan of Milford.

The ceremony also included speeches from Valedictorian Jessica Napolitano and Salutatorians Rebecca Sherrick and Gabrielle Shkreli. These three young women, along with Catherine McAuley recipient Kathleen Sullivan, topped a list of accomplished and service-minded graduates who will pursue higher education at some of the most competitive colleges and universities in the country, including Brown, Boston University, Vassar, Fordham, Connecticut College, Wesleyan, Purdue, Siena and Villanova.

In her opening remarks President Iadarola spoke of how impressed she is with this year’s graduating class. “We are so proud of all of our graduates,” she said. “They have been accepted at 160 colleges and universities and they have received over 16 million in merit based scholarships! We are also proud that they have used their Mercy education to formulate a vision of a just global society, demonstrating their compassion for others by performing more than 5,000 hours of service this year. Our graduates have worked with autistic children at camp Teepee; they helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity; they helped research early signs of autism at the Yale Child Study Center and several travelled to Guatemala to help build a three-classroom school. In short, they have learned well, the dictum of our foundress, Catherine McAuley when she said: “the poor need help today……not next week!”

Valedictorian Jessica Napolitano, daughter of Anthony and Theresa Napolitano of Hamden, is an exceptional student, excelling not only in academics and athletics but in her commitment to Lauralton Hall and the local community. She served as Vice President of the National Honors Society; was a Varsity field hockey and softball captain and she is a four-year recipient of the Frances Ward Service Award, given to students who have completed 100+ hours of community service. Her community service includes helping disadvantaged children from the St. Martin De Porres Academy and assisting with the Lauralton Hall Senior Citizen Valentine Dance, Science Olympics and Physics Camp. Jessica has received several awards, medals and certificates including the School of Engineering of Fairfield University and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science; the Dartmouth Book Award; the New Haven Register Youth of the Year Award, the Science Department Medal and the Unico Scholarship for Academic Excellence. Jessica will be majoring in physics at Connecticut College in the fall.

Salutatorian Rebecca Sherrick, daughter of Anthony and Robin Damato of Milford, is a member of the National Honors Society and the Spanish Honors Society and she is one of the few Lauralton students to receive two Department Medals—one in English and one in Science—reflecting her deep commitment to excellence and ardent interest in both subjects. Rebecca was awarded President Obama’s Recognition of Academic Excellence; she was named one of the Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program and she is a recipient of the Frances Warde Service Award for community service— recognizing her volunteer work at Lauralton Hall as well as several summer programs including Vacation Bible School, Sterling House and the Grace Baptist Church. She has also helped teach programs for children with physical and mental disabilities. Rebecca will be attending the Dana Scholars Program at Muhlenberg College, majoring in biology and anthropology.

Salutatorian Gabrielle Shkreli, daughter of Brigitte and Nick Shkreli of Easton, is best known for her effusive school spirit and support for her classmates both in the classroom and on the field. She was Manager of the Varsity soccer team; she volunteered at the Lauralton Hall Science Olympics and she was a Freshman Ambassador. Academically Gabby received numerous awards for her keen intellect, fervent work ethic and commitment to excellence. She was National Honor Society President; a member of the National Spanish Honor Society and she had the honor of singing for the Pope at the Vatican New Year’s Day Vigil! In addition to receiving several Lauralton Hall Certificates of Excellence, Gabby received the Bronze medal in the Spanish National Honor Society; President Obama’s Recognition of Educational Excellence Award; the University of Rochester Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award as well as the Cornell University Book Award. Gabby will be attending Providence College and hopes to become a broadcast journalist and make a positive impact on the world.

Class of 1963 Recognized
Representatives of the Class of 1963 celebrated their 50th jubilee and were recognized by members of the graduating class who presented each jubilarian with a single rose. President Iadarola handed them golden diplomas and gifts.

Walking the Golden Staircase
Adding a historic touch, the class of 2013 continued the school tradition “Walking the Golden Staircase.” After the graduation ceremony concluded, the graduates elegantly descended the carved spiral staircase that is part of the original Lauralton mansion where the alumnae community welcomed them as their newest members.  Sarah Hemenway Lally ’88 was there with her mother, Carol DeLuca Hemenway ’63. “It was so amazing to listen to the speeches and hear today’s graduates express the same sentiments and traditions that we had when I graduated and when my mother graduated 50 years ago,” said Sarah. “Although Lauralton has evolved tremendously we all retain the same warm feelings about the school. The Valedictorian’s description of the cherished Lauralton uniform especially resonated with me as my grandmother, who was a boarding student here, used to express a similar sentiment—that although we are each unique, we all feel deeply connected by the Lauralton jumper. I also think it was important that the Valedictorian reminded us that navy represents loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence and faith, values that Lauralton instilled in all of us.”

Liturgy and Lauralton Legacy
In celebration of the Class of 2013, a Graduation Liturgy, presided over by Reverend George Collins, S.J. was held on June 1. Opening and Offertory songs were sung by Lauralton’s Advanced Vocal Ensemble. As the Liturgy drew to a close, several members of the class of 2013 who are the daughters and granddaughters of Lauralton alumnae were recognized.

Connecticut Post photos
Photos by BK Angeletti

New Haven Register photos
—Photos by Peter Casolino


200 High Street, Milford, CT 06460  f.203.876.9760



visit us



© 2011 All Rights Reserved