First president of Archbishop Williams High inaugurated

BRAINTREE -- Almost 44 years after he graduated from Archbishop Williams High School, an accomplished educator and coach was inaugurated as the school’s first president Jan. 9 at a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley.

“This is the proudest day of my life,” said Dr. Carmen Mariano, who spent 37 years in the Quincy public school system as a teacher, assistant principal, assistant superintendent and wrestling coach.

Mariano added that it was also the saddest day of his life as he contemplated the nearly four decades of memories in Quincy. “This is the only job I would have taken to leave there.”

The search for a president began more than one year ago, he said. Although he served on the school’s board of trustees, Mariano was not in the search committee or involved in the process other than through casual conversations with other trustees.

By June 2007, the search committee was still wading through 40 to 50 good candidates with no one really standing out, he said. It was then that a member of the search committee approached him to consider the job.

“I was happy in Quincy, but this was a huge opportunity,” he said.

Through the summer, Mariano went through the full battery of interviews and screenings as the other candidates and was offered the job in August.

In his remarks, the cardinal said that even before he met Mariano that day, he knew him by reputation, “I heard so many good things about him. I am sure that he will be a great president for this school.”

In addition to administering the oath of office to the new president, the cardinal placed a heavy medallion with the school’s seal around Mariano’s neck with ribbon in the school’s colors, yellow and blue.

In a Mass full of emotion and optimism, the high point may have been when the student body burst into wild applause and cheers when the cardinal addressed the students just before the final prayers.

“My gift to you is a free day. The day has not been set but will be determined by your principal,” the cardinal said, gesturing to principal Mary Louise Sadowski.

Smiling broadly, the cardinal waited for the auditorium to quiet down before adding, “I am glad there are no objections.”

After the ceremonies, the cardinal and Mariano walked through the school’s hallways to the reception held in the gym shaking hands and chatting with students as they rushed to their next class or turned from their locker to see the cardinal and the school president standing before them.

The cardinal said he was also very pleased that Father Walter F. Keymont is joining the school as its full-time chaplain. “I look forward to the day when all Catholic high schools have priest chaplains,” he said.

The inauguration was held in the school’s auditorium which was packed with students, faculty, public officials and several of the new president’s classmates from the Class of 1964.

“It was a very moving ceremony,” said Timothy P. Cahill, the treasurer of the Commonwealth, whose wife Tina worked at the school. Marino was Cahill’s seventh grade math teacher and high school wrestling coach. “I have known him for 30 years.”

“We have a very close class,” said John P. Sears, one of the president’s former classmates. “There are probably 16 or 17 members of the class here today.”

Another classmate, James E. Tate, who now teaches history at the school, said he left the Weymouth public school system to return to the school this academic year.

“I know he has big plans for fund raising and the school’s plant,” Tate said. “He is committed to bringing the school back to its place as a school that everyone was talking about.”

The students are very excited about its new president, said senior Alicia R. Gratta, 18, who is the student body president.

Gratta said she met Mariano in August when she was volunteering at the school’s freshmen orientation. “He is so optimistic and so positive,” she said.