Men of Fortitude and Charity

Posted June 1, 2023 / Last updated June 1, 2023

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The prepared remarks of Class of 2023 Valedictorian Christian Courtade

Father Brown, Mr. Kernion, faculty, family, friends, and fellow graduates of the Class of 2023:

Tonight, we are here to celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2023 from Jesuit High School, a school that has educated the minds and hearts of young men for 175 years. We, the graduates, feel mixed emotions: we feel a sense of accomplishment in completing our high school journey, but we also feel eager anticipation to begin the next phase of our lives. As a class, we thank God for the abundant blessings He has given to us. We thank our parents for their unconditional love and unwavering support. With utmost respect, we thank the faculty and staff for giving their all to educate us.

According to Aristotle, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Rather than indoctrinating a student, authentic education seeks to bring out the best from within the student’s mind and heart. This makes sense because the word “education” comes from a Latin word meaning “to lead out.” The meaningful education we have received at Jesuit High School has sought to draw out two virtues from the mind and heart of every graduate in the Class of 2023 – fortitude and charity.

Jesuit began to forge us into men of fortitude on the first day of our eighth-grade year. On that hot August day, sweating in our polyester khaki uniforms, we immediately felt Jesuit education. Every day, we were expected to “report” to our classrooms punctually and responsibly. There was a rigorous regimen, but over time, the regimen became our routine. We learned that the regimen was not arbitrary. It was Jesuit’s way of pushing us to become men of fortitude – men of stamina who could train over long periods of time and strive for excellence in every academic and cocurricular activity, even when success was not guaranteed. Fortitude gave us the willpower to study for tests and exams early in the morning or late at night whether we felt energetic or exhausted. Fortitude gave us the determination to earn 32 awards from the National Merit Program and 6 perfect ACT scores. Fortitude gave us the perseverance to compete for and earn millions of dollars in academic and athletic scholarships to colleges and universities. Fortitude gave our Blue Jay Marching Band the endurance to achieve all Superior ratings in the LMEA Marching Festival. Fortitude gave us the tenacity to bring state championship trophies home to Carrolton and Banks in Mock Trial, Baseball, Cross Country, Lacrosse, Rugby, Swimming, Wrestling, and eSports. In the face of all adversity, we did not quit. We made each day count. As a class, we sincerely thank Jesuit for challenging us to be “gallant fighting sons” who can “climb high” to achieve excellence with fortitude.

Additionally, Jesuit has sought to shape us into men of charity. With grade level retreats and other opportunities for class fellowship, Jesuit encouraged us to form a unique community of uplifting, inclusive, and supportive men. We took the initiative to give back to our school and to our neighbors as one class, our class. To help more students find a place of belonging, we created new organizations on campus like the Politics and Pastries Club, the Investment Club, and the eSports team. With Mission Drive Fundraisers, Senior versus Faculty sports, the Carrolton Clash, the Gizzard Cape, LT’s kitchen, and exciting Dodransbicentennial pep rallies, our class unified the student body with formidable and untamable Blue Jay spirit. Following Jesus’ commandment to “love our neighbor,” the Sodality and the National Honors Society shopped, packaged, and delivered food items to people in need on behalf of local non-profit organizations. Through our service projects, we learned that bringing the love of Christ into the lives of the most vulnerable is a source of transformative joy for both the giver and the person receiving.  As a class, we thank Jesuit for encouraging us to become a brotherhood of charitable men who give without counting the cost.

Tonight, as we sit onstage, dressed in our tuxedos, with our backs straight, eyes forward, and hands on our knees, solemn and reflective, let us remember that our Jesuit education has done its best to form us into men of fortitude and men of charity. Therefore, as we commence into a world that often opposes strong will and sacrificial love, a world in which we will undoubtedly encounter many challenges, remember – we are ready.  My fellow graduates, my friends and brothers, with the education of Jesuit High School as our foundation, we, the Class of 2023, are ready to live in the modern world as courageous, loving men: men who will lead by example, men who will strive for excellence in the face of adversity, men who will bring hope into the lives of our neighbors, and men who will give back to society for the greater glory of God.

God bless you and thank you.