Home Education and Careers Diocese of Wilmington high school graduations take many forms this year, and...

Diocese of Wilmington high school graduations take many forms this year, and details could still change

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A senior and members of her family participate in a drive-thru Senior Day celebration at St. Anthony's High School in South Huntington, N.Y. May 8, 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools are adjusting their graduations to the current reality. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

The pomp is subdued because the circumstance is like nothing anyone has ever seen. Coronavirus has scuttled traditional graduation ceremonies, and the nine Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Wilmington have adjusted accordingly. Instead of gymnasiums filled with friends, family and faculty, the Class of 2020 is more likely to participate in their commencement through a computer monitor.

Several schools have settled on plans, but the ever-changing landscape of what’s allowed by Delaware and Maryland could prompt some last-minute changes.

Archmere Academy

On Pentecost Sunday, May 31, the school will stream Mass from its theater at 10 a.m. This is not the traditional baccalaureate Mass, but a service to celebrate the end of school. It is intended for the entire student body and their families. Norbertine Father John Zagarella will celebrate, with Father Joseph McLaughlin concelebrating.

That afternoon, from 2-3 p.m., seniors and their parents will drive through the main gates of the Claymont campus off Philadelphia Pike, down the “yellow-brick road” to receive a special gift box that includes a cap and gown and some other surprises. No diploma or awards will be included. Those will be saved for the in-person commencement. Seniors are invited to decorate their cars and parade through the campus. Some faculty and staff will be on hand.

Archmere plans to have a senior week, when the Class of 2020 can participate in traditions such as games on the quad, a tailgate in the lower parking lot, seeing teachers, a modified “prom,” a baccalaureate Mass and commencement exercises. The tentative dates are July 20-26, with baccalaureate on July 25 and graduation on July 26.

If restrictions still exist in late July, Archmere officials are exploring the possibility of a drive-in event for commencement in the same time frame. The school would then schedule a reunion with Mass, dinner and dancing either over the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. The class would be surveyed about the date. If there is a second wave of coronavirus-related restrictions, something will be planned for spring 2021.

Aquinas Academy

According to the school website, graduation at Aquinas Academy in Bear will take place on June 18 on the school’s YouTube channel. It will begin at 7 p.m. and will include student awards, a biographical video of each graduate, a speech from Mary Moore and a message from Bishop Malooly.

Padua Academy

According to the school website, graduation will take place via a virtual ceremony on May 28 at 7 p.m. A baccalaureate Mass will be streamed May 26 at 7 p.m. The details are not public, but the school indicated that it plans to incorporate as many of the traditional aspects of graduation as possible, along with some “complimentary elements to make it as memorable and meaningful as we can.”

St. Elizabeth

The high school graduation will be held June 1 at 7 p.m. Students received their diplomas over a six-day period in mid-May, with each being recorded for inclusion in a movie that will be shown on June 1. The movie will include a baccalaureate Mass as well as the commencement exercises. Each senior is highlighted in the movie.

If restrictions are lifted, St. Elizabeth will look into hosting a celebration for the graduates, possibly in July.

Saint Mark’s

Graduation will take place June 6 at 1 p.m. using a drive-in model on the school campus. A stage and large video screens will be located on the edge of the main parking lot, according to principal Tom Fertal.

Each graduate may have one vehicle with family members. It is not open to the public. Students will be called in pre-arranged groups of 10 and socially distanced. They will cross the stage and receive their diplomas from Fertal. A professional photographer and videographer will be on hand.

St. Thomas More

Graduation will be on June 22. Its final form has not been determined, but the baccalaureate and commencement will take place on the same day. It’s the final year for the school.

Ss. Peter and Paul

The original date for commencement was May 27, but it has been pushed back into June.

Salesianum School

Baccalaureate will be streamed May 28, graduation on May 29. Both are listed 8-9:30 p.m. on the school website.

Ursuline Academy

Ursuline has three options and will choose the one that best meets the criteria of state mandates in Delaware, a school spokeswoman said. Whichever option is selected will occur on June 28.

The preferred option is a traditional graduation, in person with all of the 38 seniors. That is the main reason the date was pushed to the end of June. Option No. 2 is a modified, socially distant ceremony. It would be face-to-face “and give students an opportunity to participate,” the school said. The last option is a virtual graduation.