It was the sort of prayer that Justin Fratantuono might have delivered next year at graduation. But the Cardinal Gibbons School closing in May, so the junior's words of thanks for teachers, friends and a school "that has allowed us to keep learning every day of our lives" took on the weight of a valedictory. "This is a really emotional day for me," Fratantuono, vice president of the last junior class at Gibbons, said after the final school assembly at the Catholic high school for boys in Southwest Baltimore. "I realize how much fun I have had here and how much I am going to miss everyone." There were still commencement ceremonies planned at the Basilica for the school's 44th and final graduating class. But for students, the underclassmen's awards ceremony was a last opportunity to gather at the school, reflect on their experiences and ponder an uncertain future. "This is really the last day," said senior Dominic Fratantuono, Justin's brother. "Not just for this year, but forever." Gibbons is the lone high school among the 13 schools to be closed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore as part of a reorganization announced this year, and the one that has provoked the greatest outcry. Parents, alumni and staff say they have raised money to take over Gibbons and run it as an independent Catholic school, but the archdiocese has been unreceptive to the idea.
Baltimore Sun Photo by Kenneth K. Lam