Class of 2021 – Valedictorian and Salutatorian

June 15, 2021 - 11:31 am

St. Paul Catholic High School Announces 52nd Commencement Exercises, Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and Two Military Appointments

Bristol, CT – June 2, 2021 – Commencement exercises for the Class of 2021 will be held on Tuesday, June 8 at 6:00 pm at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford. A celebration of the class will be held with family, friends, faculty, staff, and administration. The valedictorian and salutatorian for the Class of 2021 will give their commencement speeches that evening as well.

The St. Paul Catholic High School Class of 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian were announced in late May at St. Paul’s annual Academic Awards Night. Emma Schatz ‘21 has been named Valedictorian of the Class of 2021. Emma has chosen to attend Loyola University, Chicago in August where she will major in theoretical physics and applied  mathematics.

She is the daughter of Leah and Mark Schatz of Burlington.

Recently, Emma received an Archdiocesan Summa Scholar award presented by the Archdiocese of Hartford. She holds the office of Secretary for the National Honor Society, is involved in Student Government and the Varsity Soccer team, Chess club, Wrestling manager, Respect for Life Club, Spanish Club, Foreign Language Honors Society and Philosophy Club. Emma was also named a Commended Student in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program. She managed to balance her academic, club and sports responsibilities throughout her four years at St. Paul very well.

Her advice to students, “it’s simple, try everything! Don’t let an opportunity pass you by because you think you’re unqualified or you won’t succeed. Don’t be afraid to challenge and push yourself to the limits. Try your best and I promise you, something incredible will come out of it.”

Emma’s favorite class at St. Paul was AP Calculus. “It was a humbling experience and taught me to accept failure and learn from it!”

Sophia Gerst was named Salutatorian of the Class of 2021. She is the daughter of Liliana and Richard Gerst of Bristol.

When asked what advice she would give to a St. Paul student, she said “as you continue your journey through high school do not wait for things to come to you. Good things come to those who work hard. Do the things you love while you can and live in the moment.”

In her four years at St. Paul Sophia participated in Varsity Soccer, Varsity Basketball (captain), Varsity Track for two years, Chess Club, National Honor Society, Math Team, CIAC Class Act Committee, CIAC Student Athletic Advisory Board and Chorus.

One of her favorite classes at St. Paul was Honors Anatomy and Physiology because of her desire to go into the medical field and learn about the movement of the human body.

She recently was recognized as an Archdiocesan Summa Scholar by the Archdiocese of Hartford as well as several athletic accomplishments.

Sophia will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY in the fall and will major in biomedical engineering on a pre-med track.

Two Military Appointments

St. Paul is proud to announce two military appointments from the Class of 2021. Jonathan Passander, Bristol (US Military Academy, West Point) and Joshua Silva, Southington (US Naval Academy, Annapolis)

When asked why Jonathan chose to apply to the US Military Academy he said, “I wanted to pursue a rigorous college education while also serving our country as an Army officer, improving my leadership qualities, and strengthening my core values. This path of discipline and struggle will form the best version of myself, pushing me past my limits. I am determined to take this commitment seriously to provide the next generation of soldiers with quality leadership and represent the military and country as best as I can. I find myself fascinated with the amount of opportunities available through the Academy and beyond. Lastly, I want to provide a good foundation for myself in fields like engineering and robotics to apply to my Army discipline, further studies, and future career afterwards.”


Joshua was asked what made him choose to apply to the Naval Academy, his response was, “My brother, who recently graduated from the Air Force Academy, recommended a book called Brother’s Forever by Tom Sileo and Colonel Tom Manion. The book is about the life of two best friends who graduated from Annapolis, their service, and their eventual sacrifice. Then what ultimately inspired me to apply to the Naval Academy was a quote that read ‘If not me, then who?’


The rigor these gentlemen had to endure to be accepted into these programs is so inspiring! We wish them the best of luck and know they will make us proud!