Lumen Christi High School celebrates class of 2022 graduation

Lumen Christi High School celebrated commencement at the school gymnasium in Anchorage on May 5.

The class of 2022 is the 24th class to graduate from Lumen, and they tie the class of 2011 for the largest graduating class in school history with 16 seniors. 

Nine of the graduates attended St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School (SEAS), with five of the graduates — Brenden Gregory, Francesca Locke, Vaeda Michaelson, Evan Powell, and Liam Thomson — having attended all thirteen years of their K-12 education in Catholic education at SEAS and Lumen.

Archbishop Emeritus Roger Schwietz, O.M.I., kicked off commencement with an opening prayer after graduates were seated. Lumen Christi alumni Carolyn Loeffler served as the master of ceremonies for the event.

Father Robert Whitney, the parochial vicar of Our Lady of the Angels in Kenai and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Soldotna, was invited to be the guest speaker. Before his current assignment on the peninsula, he was a theology instructor at Lumen, teaching many of the graduates during their eighth-grade year. 

During his keynote speech, Fr. Whitney challenged the graduates to “act like men and women with a backbone … be who you are, become the saints God wills you to be.” He urged the class to “be the peace of Christ in the world today.” 

“You are Lumen Christi,” he said, “and we trust that you have learned with us that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”  

Valedictorian Josh Van Tuyl focused on two primary virtues during his address: resilience and love. He shared many examples of how these virtues were demonstrated during his four years at the school, and he emphasized that the virtue of love is what sets Lumen apart from other high schools. He concluded his remarks by challenging his fellow classmates by saying, “We foster love among us, and I hope that we continue to carry on that same love of neighbor and God moving forward.” 

Salutatorian Liam Thomson centered his speech around the school’s three core values: faith, family, and excellence, with a particular emphasis on family through friendships, faculty, and coaching staff. 

From left, graduates Joseph Moriarty and Brenden Gregory congratulate teacher Megan Spillers for acquiring her master’s degree. (Courtesy of Kara Moriarty)

“True excellence of Lumen Christi is from the lessons we have learned and bonds we have made, from the strong faith and familial bonds of this community,” Thomson said. “I believe we all have the skills to find success because of the unique experiences, support, and opportunities we all had here at Lumen.”

Excellence certainly did prevail, with the students collectively receiving more than $1.5 million in scholarship offers and grants for post-secondary education opportunities. 

The 16 graduates were not the only graduates to be recognized during the event. Beloved Lumen instructor, Megan Spillers, was shocked to learn the graduating seniors permitted Principal Brian Ross to recognize her for acquiring a Master of Science, with an emphasis in social studies, from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. 

Spillers had been attending St. Joseph’s virtually in pursuit of her degree as she taught school and raised her young daughters. She was unable to attend the Jesuit university’s graduation as it conflicted with her duties as a teacher at Lumen. 

Ross reiterated to the class of 2022 that graduation day is like their class motto from Pope Saint John Paul II, “the future starts today, not tomorrow” and that by recognizing Ms. Spillers’ graduation with their own may serve as “one final and lasting lesson of what it means to be a lifelong learner and servant leader.” 


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