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The Power of Catholic Education: A St. John Neumann Catholic School Student's Inspirational Speech

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

At St. John Neumann Catholic School's Annual Auction in November 2023, Addison Vialpando gave the following moving speech:

Good evening! My name is Addison Vialpando, and I am an eighth grade student and Student Council President at St. John Neumann. I wanted to commence by thanking each of you for your attendance tonight and your continued support of not only St. John Neumann but of Catholic education in the Pueblo community. It is because of you and your unwavering support that children like me can thrive and succeed even in the most challenging of times.

I began my journey at St. John Neumann in August of 2012 as a preschooler in Mrs. Laura Guzman's Class. On my first day of preschool, I was very nervous and unsure what my days would hold. Today, eleven years later, I stand before you with complete confidence, appreciation, and admiration for a school that has brought me far more than my parents and I could ever hoped for. For years my mom has said," lf there's a place that Addie loves it's John Neumann" and I have to say as I am in my final year of middle school, that statement could not be more true. My attendance at St. John Neumann has not only provided me with an exceptional education where I have more times than not tested well above grade level but also with a community of wonderful people who have loved and supported me in life's ups and downs and who I can surely say have become a part of my family.

The theme of this year's dinner auction is "Land that I love, school that I love". Much like that first day of preschool, I believe the founders of our country felt the same way, nervous and unsure of what was before them, and today one may argue that many in our country feel the same way. We are familiar with the phrase in our Declaration of Independence that asserts that every person possesses three inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The phrase "pursuit of happiness" in 1776 meant "the pursuit of a meaningful life", a life that provided people with a sense of satisfaction that what they were doing gave their lives value. These rights were ethical goals set out by our founding fathers to be the core of our country's moral code. Many men and women over the years have fought, sacrificed, and lost their lives protecting our country and the rights on which it was established. I am a proud descendant of Italian immigrants that came to this country not only seeking these same goals but who honored to fight, to protect, and to preserve the pursuit of a meaningful life not only for our family and generation to come, but for this country.

Through my years at St. John Neumann, I have seen teachers, staff, parents, and community members work tirelessly to preserve the pursuit of meaningful catholic education in the Pueblo community and tonight your support further aids in this mission. Being able to offer outstanding education is one of the many goals of St. John Neumann. As affirmed in our philosophy and core values, St. John Neumann encourages and provides opportunities for students to become contributing members of the family, school, church, and civic communities. St. John Neumann prepares students to respect the sacred dignity of each person as an individual, and, through the school's mission, manifest a philosophy of service to others and living a Christ centered life. Our country and communities need schools like St. John Neumann now more than ever and with your continued support I am confident we will be able to remain strong in Pueblo for years to come.

Although I dread the last day in May where I will have to say goodbye to a school and a community that has given me so much more than what I could have ever imagined. Sitting in circle time singing, laughing, and learning I know I will walk away feeling an enormous amount of gratitude for the opportunity to have been a student of St. John Neumann Catholic School for the friendships, experiences, and memories shared and for the strong moral and ethical values that will help me as I journey down a successful path in the future. I will forever love, support, and advocate for St. John Neumann Catholic School and I can truly attest that the pursuit of meaningful catholic education leaves you with a sense of satisfaction that all you've done was beyond worth it.

Thank you for your time and support. Have a great night!

Addison Vialpando, eighth grade student and Student Council President at St. John Neumann Catholic School, Pueblo

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