BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP — The 173 members of St. Augustine Prep’s Class of 2013 received their diplomas Sunday, joined by several members of the Class of 1963 — the school's first graduating class.

“It is hoped that the seeds of Augustinian spirit planted in the last four years will take full root in the years ahead,” Associate Dean Donald Casolaro said.

Salutatorian Vincent Silvanio, of Sewell, Gloucester County, spoke of his time in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where he befriended three girls whose mother had died of leukemia.

“These acts of service can make an impactful difference in the lives of others, and our own,” Silvanio said. “In September 2009, we entered as boys to learn, and on this blessed day, May 19, 2013, we exit as men to serve.”

Kyle Brandt, Nicholas Enos, Ryan Zurawski and Danny Capone were recipients of the Christian Gentleman Award, while valedictorian Austin Neri, of Wildwood Crest, was named the recipient of the President’s Award.

In his closing address, Neri spoke of time in service in Philadelphia and Camden, where he recalled the words of a 10-year volunteer at Frank’s Place Day Shelter for the homeless.

“‘Son, you are the life of the world,’” Neri recalled. “‘I’ve seen the same sad face walk in and out of this place. Life is a struggle for those who complain. Life is a blessing for those who are happy.’”

“Just as when you hear a song on the radio, it brings back past memories and feelings,” Neri said, “whenever you hear the word brotherhood, we’re immediately reminded of a place that changed our lives forever.”

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