This past August, the Class of 2020 continued the tradition of wearing festive accessories (think boas, crowns, and fun eyeglasses) and greeting the school year and their classmates with infectious enthusiasm. This tradition was the first of many anticipated senior traditions and milestones to follow throughout the year.
While the latter part of this academic year has unfolded much differently than expected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is remarkable how the Marist School community has come together. After spring break, Marist closed campus operations and pivoted to virtual learning, and students, faculty, and staff adjusted to new ways of learning, teaching, and supporting one another while being physically apart. In particular, the Class of 2020 displayed extraordinary resilience and faith in the face of uncertainty.
Some parts of senior year remained the same. Seniors worked hard in their classes and chose which colleges and universities they plan to attend. They shared their top book recommendations and continued to be active in student organizations. They helped their families and communities through community service and by offering signs of hope. Seniors enjoyed Donuts with Dad, just from the comfort of home this year.
The Marist School community also has come up with new ways to honor the Class of 2020. The Marist Parents Club teamed up with the Campus Store to surprise seniors with “We Love Our Seniors” yard signs on what was supposed to be St. Peter Chanel Day. On social media, the Marist Broadcasting Club and Marist honored senior athletes who participated in spring sports.
Senior Class Moderator and Associate Director of College Counseling Mr. Dan Walls participated in a virtual senior class meeting in April which included Marist School Principal Mr. Kevin Mullally and Dean of Students Mr. Mike Trapani ’70, among others. Mr. Walls recalled that as the meeting ended and students entered comments in the chat box, one student’s reflection resonated with him. The student said that she would have spent that last day at school before spring break in a much different way if she had known what was to come. Mr. Walls said, “The journey of the past few ‘virtual’ months has been challenging for everyone. I have marveled at the spirit of the Class of 2020. They embraced ‘we are all in this together,’ and that is what I will fondly remember.”
Marist School Principal Mr. Kevin Mullally reached out to families to determine the best ways to honor the Class of 2020. Feedback indicated that a virtual graduation ceremony would not adequately capture the importance of the event and that a delayed graduation with as much as possible of the usual pomp and circumstance is the priority. With the uncertainty of social distancing guidelines and large group gatherings in May, Marist decided to move graduation events from Memorial Day weekend to the weekend of July 10-12. Plans also are being made to include many other favorite senior events such as a senior breakfast, Emmaus retreat, prom, awards assembly, and St. Peter Chanel Day with Senior Beach. The Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement will cap off the weekend on Sunday, July 12.
Before the Graduation Weekend celebration in July, seniors and Marist faculty and staff returned to campus for a socially distanced Senior Send-off this past Friday. This fun and festive drive-thru farewell event included music, treats, photo opportunities, and prizes including class mugs, a favorite gift and tradition provided by the Marist Alumni Association. Most importantly, Senior Send-off gave seniors, faculty, and staff the opportunity to safely visit one more time before graduation.
Student Council Co-president Justin Wong ’20 said, “I have seen the Marist School community come together during these times through how positive everyone has been. Everyone is trying their best to keep their heads high and make the best out of the situation. As seniors, we have all been told a lot recently that ‘this is not how you expected your senior year to end,’ but rather than wallowing in what could have been, we have all been making new expectations and will be stronger as a class and school community because of our separation.”
Marist looks forward to continuing the celebration in July as we honor the members of the Class of 2020 for the remarkable contributions they have made throughout their time at Marist.