BELMAR — Like high school graduates everywhere, the St. Rose High School class of 2021 persevered through a senior year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made its commencement ceremonies at Monmouth University in Long Branch last month all the more celebratory.

To commemorate it, St. Rose has posted videos and slideshows of the June 1 commencement, along with associated events at

The festivities were a welcome return to tradition for the school, which last year had to settle for a scaled down outdoor ceremony on their athletic fields in Wall Township.


At this year’s commencement, Abigail Antognoli, the class valedictorian, praised her peers a class of “resilience” who “survived the pandemic, virtual learning, malfunctioning chrome books, and last but not least, the squirrels hijacking our wifi.”

“We have learned what it means to adjust and conquer and make the best of all situations,” she said, also recognizing the school’s staff and administration for smoothly adapting to pandemic measures and providing stability to students.

Susanna Testa was the class salutatorian and Ella Rossetti, Caroline Caputo, Lucas Hope, Elena Vallaveedan, Brendan Dwyer, Angelina Maione, Michael Fluhr and Anne DiTullio rounded out the class of 2021’s top ten students.

In his benediction opening the ceremony, Monsignor Edward J. Arnister, pastor of Saint Rose Church, prayed that as they leave St. Rose High School, the graduates will cling to the values of the school’s motto, virtue and knowledge.

The graduation speaker was St. Rose alum F. Scott Moody, class of 1975. Mr. Moody went on to earn a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from North Carolina State University and a Master’s degree from the University of Florida. He became co-founder of AuthenTec, a firm acquired by Apple after creating the fingerprint sensor technology that would eventually become Apple Touch ID.

During his address to students Mr. Moody, who is now CEO of the technology company K4Connect, said his advice to this year’s graduating class could be summed up in one word: impact.

“It’s not about being seen, or thinking of yourself as important or the amount of wealth that you make or even the amount of likes you get on Instagram,” he said.”The truth is that having the greatest impact on the lives of others, on the world we and future generations live in is completely unrelated to any of those things.”

“Most of the time, that impact comes by the way of the smallest gesture from the most unassuming person in the room,” Mr. Moody said, recalling a time during his freshman year in college when he was considering leaving and returning home. He probably would have done so, he said, if it wasn’t for the message that his high school history teacher wrote in his yearbook calling him a “smart, informed student of great potential” and wishing him peace and happiness.

“Such a little thing, just a few words of encouragement. You would be surprised that is all it takes,” he said. “If not for those 46 words, I don’t know if I would have made it through college, met my wife of 41 years and had our three daughters.”

Ms. Antognoli left her classmates with a piece of advice that she learned from playing basketball. Recalling her practice sessions, she told her classmates how members of the team would run sprints on the court. If a single player did not run all the way to the baseline, the whole team would be penalized with extra laps.

“I never understood what the big deal was that a player did not step half an inch over the baseline,” she said. “But now I see it makes all the difference. It’s that little step that determines the good from the great. That extra step establishes the accomplished and successful. That extra step, that half an inch, that is what we all need to remember as we enter a new journey in our lives. It’s the little things that matter.”

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