One of the big trends of the COVID-19 era is drive-by special occasions, in which the community salutes someone for his birthday, anniversary or graduation. It’s fair to say, however, that no one is doing graduation quite the way that Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains is. It begins Thursday, June 4 when the seniors return to the campus to pick up their caps, gowns and yearbooks. On hand to cheer them will be members of the faculty. To maintain safety, the students will arrive not in mass but by appointment alphabetically over the course of four hours.
But the students will also be leaving with something unique that day. It will be a personalized lawn sign comprised of their photographs, names and banners reading “Stepinac Congratulates Class of 2020.” When they return home, they can display the oversize lawn signs for their friends and neighbors to see.
In a visually dramatic display before the students arrive, all 180 lawn signs will be displayed on the lawns fronting Stepinac’s main entrance at 950 Mamaroneck Ave.
On June 18, a pre-recorded Baccalaureate Graduation Mass, celebrated by Stepinac’s president, the Rev. Thomas Collins (Class of ’79), will be released via LocalLive.com. During the ceremony, Principal Paul Carty will announce the names of the student graduation award winners.
A live event will follow on June 25 – a student car parade on the school campus, which will be decorated for the festive occasion. The students will drive under a huge arch of red, white and blue balloons. The graduates will have the opportunity to decorate their cars as well. During the procession, the students – dressed in their caps and gowns –will stop and step out of their cars and have photos taken with their parents/guardians. The faculty will again be invited to cheer the graduates.
A virtual celebration of the graduates will be presented on the school website (stepinac.org) on June 30th. Each graduate will be featured along with his graduation awards. A highlight will be photos and videos of the Class of 2020’s moments from the school year. Valedictory and salutatory addresses will be included along with other special presentations.
If distancing guidelines permit, an extended celebration of the Class of 2020 will be held in mid-July with a small-scale graduation ceremony for the graduates and their parents/guardians only. Social distancing rules will be strictly enforced. Details for this and other events will follow in future announcements. “Given the extraordinary challenges they faced during the spring semester, it is fitting we recognize the Class of 2020 in several special ways,” Collins said in a statement. “Like the entire Stepinac community, the graduates proved to be a strong, resilient and determined counter-force to the pandemic.”
Added Carty: “We congratulate them on their achievements at Stepinac and wish them well as they follow in the steps of our alumni in pursuing post-secondary success at college and in their future careers.”
And to all the grads out there we at WAG add our best wishes for a bright future.
For more, visit stepinac.org.
– Georgette Gouveia