Marist High School held its 55th annual commencement exercises on Friday, May 21, at Soldier Field, sending off an accomplished class of 376 young men and women.

The class valedictorian was National Merit Finalist Colin Dillon, of Oak Lawn, who addressed the class. The salutatorian was Caitlin McGrath, of Oak Lawn, who offered the opening prayer. They will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Notre Dame, respectively.

Thomas Kavanaugh, of Oak Lawn, was also a National Merit Finalist and one of only 26 seniors in the state named to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) All-Academic Team while Jack Vulich, of Oak Lawn, was a National Merit Commended student.

Marist boasted 50 Illinois State Scholars, representing the top 10 percent of seniors in the state. Numerous students were named ACT scholars, Advanced Placement Scholars and received prestigious awards and scholarships.

The graduates continued to build Marist’s strong academic reputation and garnered more than $51 million in college scholarships. They sent out 2,393 college applications to 354 colleges and universities across the country.

Graduates will be on campuses coast-to-coast in the fall including Princeton University, Marquette University, Loyola University, The Ohio State University, University of Iowa, University of California and University of Kansas, to name a few.

The Faculty Award, which is voted on by Marist teachers, honors students who embody the ideals of a Marist graduate in faith, service and academics, and it was given to Kaylen Baker, Jack Harmon, of Evergreen Park, and Sarah Hughes, of Evergreen Park.

Hughes, Cesar Gaona, Daniel Gillerlain, of Beverly, Josiah Harris, and Ryan Rosenberg, of Evergreen Park, were awarded the Chick Evans Scholarship.

Class members Nick Vallie, of Morgan Park, and Ed Carroll, of Mt. Greenwood, will enlist in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines, respectively.

At the heart of their Marist experience was spiritual growth. While some programs were curtailed due to the pandemic, the class participated in grade-level retreats throughout their four years, service projects and liturgical celebrations and sacraments.

Athletically, individuals and teams were strong performers. Teams garnered conference, regional, sectional and state titles; 43 graduates will continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level.

After the bell rang each day, seniors participated in clubs and activities, sharing their leadership and expertise with the school community. Marist seniors were leaders on the math team, which finished seventh in state overall. Members of the school newspaper advanced and placed in the IHSA journalism finals, with PJ Cunningham, of Beverly, being named Marist’s first state champion journalist. Student council members planned a variety of events and activities throughout the year. The theater guild produced a fall drama and spring musical to the delight of audiences, even when they had to go virtual. The band and chorus members continued to perform despite the challenges and produced two virtual concerts during their senior year.

Celebrating 57 years of excellence, Marist High School is a Catholic, college-prep, coed institution committed to making Jesus known and loved while preparing students for higher education and life.