*SPOILER ALERT* If you saw today’s social media post featuring two SMCS mystery alum (one student and one faculty), here’s your answer in the form of an eye-witness account written by current SMCS staff member, Jennifer Janus, who orchestrated and joyfully chronicled their emotional meet up last week in Richmond.
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This morning I got to bear witness to a masterpiece revealed in person. I got to see Mrs. Joann Moroni, retired Saint Mary’s teacher who was here for 30 years, meet her former student, Brandon Smith (stage name Brandon Rush) for the first time since he graduated from her eighth-grade class in 1999.
Brandon, back then, was a self-professed troublemaker. He almost didn’t graduate. He didn’t care. But Mrs. Moroni, and other teachers from Saint Mary’s (Mrs. Regec and Mrs. Meyers, in particular), took special interest in Brandon. They kept working with him, pushing him to succeed. They saw the diamond in the rough.
Today, Brandon said: “I love you, Mrs. Moroni. I would not be the man I am today without you. I am beyond thankful.”
After Saint Mary’s, Brandon graduated from Tucker High School, then the University of South Carolina. He followed a dream to become an actor. He’s worked in New York, L.A., Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans. He stars in shows like Criminal Minds, Blue Bloods, MacGyver, The Bold and the Beautiful and Ozark. He’s got a part in Top Gun: Maverick. He was in the movie Valor.
Brandon volunteers as a motivational speaker, and he sometimes speaks to students about the importance of doing well in school – of working hard. He is thankful for the foundation he received at Saint Mary’s, for the sacrifices his parents made to enable him to go to school here, and for Mrs. Moroni’s relentless faith in him.
“Everyone was for you succeeding at Saint Mary’s,” he said.
Moroni’s – and others faith in Brandon has paid off. Today Brandon Smith is a star both on and off the screen. He is humble, energetic, and grateful to God for the blessings in his life.
You can follow Brandon on Twitter.
Know of another SMCS Alum we should feature? Contact Jennifer Janus.