AUBURN — The largest class ever to pass through Tyburn Academy of Mary Immaculate in Auburn graduated high school as the sun set Friday evening.

Incense filled the air as the Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano, bishop of Rochester, celebrated a graduation Mass before the commencement ceremony. 

The 21 students are arguably the most decorated, said Joseph LoPiccolo, president of the academy's board of directors. He said the students, all combined, received over $400,000 in scholarships to continue their education.

Class salutatorian Thomas Zabriskie led the day's speeches off with a little bit of Ferris Bueller, from the movie, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

"Life moves pretty fast," Zabriskie quoted. "If you don't stop and look around for a while, you could miss it."

Students and parents laughed. 

But Zabriskie also talked about how much he would miss his friends at Tyburn. 

"All of you mean so much to me," he said. "We've all matured together, and become who we really are."

The valedictorian of the class, Carlin Ryan, highlighted specific memories at Tyburn, addressing each one of her teachers and a how they had helped her along the way. 

Timothy T. O'Donnell, president of Christendom College in Fort Royal, Virginia, gave the class commencement address. Standing at the front of the church, O'Donnell stressed that the graduates had been given a special light from Tyburn. He encouraged the students to use that light and communicate with others.

"There's massive amnesia in our culture right now," O'Donnell said. "We don't know who we are. We don't know where we're going."

He encouraged the graduates to share their faith with everyone they encounter.

"You are special," O'Donnell said. "You have a unique calling."

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Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.