Celebrate the class of 2015

This month 925 seniors will receive their diplomas from the six local Catholic high schools, both archdiocesan and private. Below are senior class highlights and commencement ceremony information for each school.

Arrupe Jesuit High School
The 77 seniors of the class of 2015 will graduate at a ceremony 10 a.m. May 29 at the Regis University Fieldhouse at 3333 Regis Blvd. in Denver. Graduates will attend colleges locally and abroad including University of Denver, Xavier University, Loyola University Chicago, St. Louis University, Creighton University, George Mason University, Santa Clara University and Regis University.

Bishop Machebeuf High School
The school’s 2015 graduating class will participate in a commencement ceremony 10 a.m. May 17 at the Denver school located at 458 Uinta Way. This year’s senior class grew to 101 students, compared to last year’s graduating class of 73. In addition to moving on to several colleges and universities, some graduates are joining the military.

Holy Family High School
The Broomfield school will celebrate 154 graduating seniors at a ceremony 10 a.m. May 21 at the school’s Michael G. Gabriel Football Stadium at 5195 W 144th Ave. The class earned more than $14.5 million in merit-based scholarships and will attend 59 colleges in 28 states including Mount Saint Mary University, University of Notre Dame, University of Tulsa, San Diego State University, Benedictine College and Regis University.

Mullen High SchoolGraduates with diplomas.
The 159 members of Mullen’s senior class will receive their diplomas at a ceremony 9 a.m. May 23 at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Denver. Together they received some $17 million in scholarship awards, with nearly one in four selecting a Catholic college or university. Institutions student will attend include University of Notre Dame, Northwestern University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Harvard University, and the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School.

Regis Jesuit High School Boys Division
The Boys Division of the Jesuit prep school in Aurora will celebrate graduation at 9:30 a.m. May 17 at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The 210 total graduates combined for an estimated $18 million in scholarships. They will move on to several colleges including University of Notre Dame, Rice University, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and a number of Jesuit colleges and universities.

Regis Jesuit High School Girls Division
The Girls Division of the Aurora high school will hold their commencement ceremony 7 p.m. May 18 at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The class of young women had 162 graduates this year who earned more than $19 million in scholarships. Colleges they will be attending include the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, University of Denver, Ave Maria University, and several Jesuit colleges and universities.

St. Mary’s Academy
St. Mary’s Academy will celebrate the graduation of 62 seniors from the girls’ school founded by the Sisters of Loretto at commencement exercises 10 a.m. May 16 on the Englewood campus at 4545 S. University Blvd. Forty-seven seniors combined to receive $7.2 million in merit scholarships. Graduates will be heading to colleges including Dartmouth College, Carnegie Mellon University, University of St. Andrews in Scotland, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Reed College, University of Notre Dame and Mount Holyoke College.


COMING UP: Did Christians ban the Games? Tales, myths and other fun facts about the ancient Olympics

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The 2020 Summer Olympics began less than a week ago, and as is usually the case, there’s been enough stunning athleticism, shocking upsets and yes, even a little bit of drama on display to keep the water cooler chatter abuzz until at least the 2022 games.

At their best, the Olympic games bridge cultural divides and unite countries around the world as the greatest living athletes around the globe compete for the coveted gold medal in their respective events. There’s a spirit of global camaraderie that welcomely comes about during every Olympiad; whether watching the Games at home with the family or going to a local bar to cheer on your favorite country, the Olympics bring people together in a way that most other sporting events do not.

Another astounding thing about the Olympics is how they’ve endured over the millennia. Indeed, they provide a special glimpse into the history of the world and those common qualities of humanity that will never die; namely, the need for both unitive, universal community and friendly but fierce competition.

The first recorded Olympic games took place in 776 B.C., though some historians speculate that they could have began as early as the 10th century B.C. The games were held every four years in Olympia to honor the greek god Zeus as one of four Panhellenic festivals, this one coinciding with the second full moon following the summer solstice, usually at the end of July or early August. The Olympics became so significant that the term Olympiad was used to mark a year the games took place, and became a common unit of historical time measurement.

Now, the ancient world wasn’t exactly known for its amicability or even peacefulness, as indicated by the countless wars and power usurpations that took place throughout its history. However, Olympic festivals were marked by a truce among the Greeks called ekecheiria, which roughly means “holding of hands.” This ensured safe travels for athletes and spectators as they made their way to the festival and was a common basis for peace among the Greeks. That the Olympic games could get even the constantly feuding Greeks to lay down their arms and come together in a spirit of solidarity speaks to their significance in ancient history.

Early Olympic events included the footrace, wrestling, the long jump, the javelin throw, the discus throw and boxing. Of course, it’s nigh impossible to read about the ancient Olympics and not come across epic tales of chariot racing, an event which was briefly banned early on but was reinstated by the first century B.C. and drew the interest of several key Roman figures (more on that later).

By the fifth century B.C., athletes from all over the Greek-speaking world came to Olympia for the games. The footrace, also called the Stade or Stadion, was considered the most prestigious event, and is where the english word “stadium” is derived from. Stade was a unit of measurement in ancient Greece which modern historians say is the rough equivalent to 600 feet or 200 yards, though the actual length has been a subject of debate for many years. Either way, it represents the length which runners in the Stadion ran to prove themselves as the fastest sprinters in the ancient world.

Interestingly, very little record about the Olympics games during the time of Christ exists. History tells us that the Roman emperor Tiberius, who was emperor during Christ’s life, won the chariot races during the 194th Olympiad in 4 B.C. In 17 A.D., the popular Roman general Germanicus, who was Tiberius’ adopted son and the future father of the third Roman Emperor Caligula, won the chariot races in 17 A.D., presumably around the time Christ was a teenager.

About those chariot races: they were known to attract elite political figures, some of whom won based on true skill, and others who only wanted the appearance of winning to further exert their power and status. During the 211th Olympiad, Emperor Nero, known for his fierce persecution of Christians and rather narcissistic personality, forcibly moved the Olympic games set to take place in 65 A.D. to 67 A.D. so he could compete while on a tour of Greece. He participated in the chariot races (with six more horses than the other competitors), and declared himself the greatest Olympic victor of all time, though historical eyewitness accounts tell a different story. Nero actually nearly died after a severe wreck, but Nero being Nero, he was still declared the winner.

Thankfully, Nero’s title as an Olympic victor and the Olympiad he “won,” which did not adhere to the established chronology of the games, were subsequently stricken from the official Olympic records after his death.

The Olympics grew over the course of 1,200 years until 393 A.D., when Emperor Theodosius I banned all Pagan festivals from the Roman emperor after Christianity became adopted as the state religion. Popular culture and history has long maintained this story of Christianity being to blame for the halt of the Olympic games. However, in recent years, some historians have disputed this account, saying that it was not for religious reasons but rather economic reasons that the games ended when they did. In fact, even after Theodosius’ death, there are still records of Olympic games taking place up until the fifth century. As the administration of Roman Empire evolved, the Olympics could no longer be sponsored by civil funds and instead became sponsored more and more by rich elites of the time. Simply put, the games became too expensive, and no one wanted to pay for them anymore.

The Olympics did not make a return for 1,500 years, until the Athens Olympics in 1896. Over the last 125 years since their reinstatement, the Games have become an integral piece of modern culture and a remnant of ancient history that was revived to great avail. As the Olympics in Tokyo continue over the next week and athletes compete for the gold, the words of St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians serve as a pertinent reminder of how the spirit of an Olympian imitates closely that of a Christian:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:24-27).

So let the Games continue! And may the race be run not for a perishable prize, but an imperishable one.

Featured photo: Met Museum, Terracotta Panathenaic prize amphora (jar), ca. 510 B.C. Attributed to the Leagros Group.