Father and daughter to celebrate Mount graduation 50 years apart

Father and daughter to celebrate Mount graduation 50 years apart

Marc and Sophie Staelen of North Smithfield will celebrate her graduation from Mount Saint Charles Academy this weekend at the same time as they celebrate his 50th reunion.

WOONSOCKET – This weekend, Mount Saint Charles Academy will celebrate a first during its 97th annual commencement ceremony.

The school, which normally recognizes its 50th year reunion graduates with “golden anniversary” diplomas during the ceremony, will have a father-daughter pair, 50 years apart, both walking the graduation stage.

Sophie Staelen, a member of the Class of 2021, will receive her diploma before heading off to Emmanuel College to study nursing in the fall. Her father, Marc Staelen, president of the Class of 1971, will receive his anniversary diploma as his class celebrates their 50th reunion.

Marc and Sophie said they believe it’s the first time the school has seen that particular pairing.

“There’s been grandfathers and granddaughters, but I think it’s the first father-daughter deal,” said Marc, 68.

Sophie, whose mother is Claire Staelen of North Smithfield, said much has changed since her father graduated from the Catholic high school. Instead of Brothers of the Sacred Heart, her classes are now taught mostly by lay people, and the formerly all-boys’ school began accepting women shortly after Marc’s graduation.

Both Marc and Sophie, as well as his other daughter, Danielle, who graduated from the school in 2014, served as captains of the varsity soccer teams. Marc made it as far as the playoffs, but Sophie’s team went on to win the Division II championship in 2018 during her sophomore year. Richard Lawrence, the English teacher and tennis coach who now holds the title of senior athletic director, was present for both of their Mount careers.

After graduating in 1971, Marc played Division I soccer for the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. He returned home to join the family textile business off East School Street in Woonsocket, later renamed Sports Systems Custom Bags, where he now serves as president.

Sophie said she’s looking forward to having her father be a part of her graduation ceremony.

“It’s definitely going to be really cool to walk across the stage and be able to see him right away,” she said. “I’m really excited to share that with him.”