Celebrating seniors despite COVID-19


Photo by Scott Redington

Maya Redington ‘20 poses with her senior sign, a gift from CCHS to honor the seniors as they complete their high school career at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sara Vechinski, Social Media Editor

While many high school seniors across San Diego and the country mourn the loss of a long-awaited graduation commencement, Cathedral Catholic High School seniors remain hopeful for a live graduation during the summer months.

As it currently stands, CCHS has asked seniors to reserve two potential dates for graduation: June 27-28 and July 25-26. 

Dean of Academics Mrs. Christy Bailleul, who plans the graduation events, formed committees and conducted a survey in order to gauge the community’s priorities for senior events. 

“My best case scenario is a live graduation for all of our students,” Mrs. Bailleul said. 

“I have heard everyone, and a virtual ceremony is not what anyone wants, so I’m doing everything I can to have some kind of in-person ceremony. What that will look like is just going to depend [on federal and local mandates].”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools have switched their senior celebrations to virtual formats. Although CCHS still plans on hosting a live graduation for the class of 2020 during the summer months, administration will continue to prepare and plan for any potential mandates from local and state officials.

CCHS restructured the senior Baccalaureate Mass, originally scheduled for May 28, to a virtual event, which will be livestreamed on May 30 at 6:00 pm, with Bishop Dolan presiding. The honored Don and Dama will be allowed to attend the Mass as representatives of the Class of 2020. The Senior Awards, which were scheduled to be associated with the Senior Luncheon on May 29, will be announced before the Mass at 5:00 p.m.

The CCHS Athletic Director Mr. David Smola has also transferred the athletic awards ceremonies to an online format in order to ensure the seniors are still recognized for their athletic achievements. 

The Spring National Letter of Intent Signing honored 12 seniors in a video format for earning a roster spot on a college sports team. The Athletic Awards Night also celebrated seniors for their achievements in CCHS sports and was live-streamed on the CCHS Youtube Channel on Monday.

“The athletic department is proud of all of our athletes,” Mr. Smola said, “and we wish our seniors the best as they transition to college and a new journey.”

In addition to finding ways to make the old senior traditions work for the class of 2020, CCHS has found new ways of celebrating their seniors.

Through a donation from Fr. Mike Ortiz, CCHS designed and delivered signs for seniors to put in their yards, honoring their status as a part of the unique class of 2020. 

“As an unexpected positive, I truly feel as though this pandemic has brought our class closer together than it has ever been before,” Sydney Crister ‘20 said. “Everyone has been so supportive of each other, and I’ve never seen so much love in our community. One thing that I love that our school has done for us was make us senior signs. I love how teachers personally delivered these signs, and just seeing all the pictures is so cute. Also, I know how hard our senior committee is working with the teachers to plan some awesome events for us, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what they have planned.”

While events like the Senior Boat Dance, Prom, Grad Night, and the Disneyland Trip have been canceled, CCHS has created the Class of 2020 Appreciation Parade.

Originally scheduled for May 2, but cancelled due to local restrictions on gatherings, the Class of 2020 Appreciation Parade will be on May 23 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Seniors and their families can drive through the CCHS parking lot, while teachers, staff, and administrators line the route to cheer for the seniors and honor them as they enter their final week of school. Seniors will also receive their graduation caps and gowns and other gifts and memorabilia on Saturday. 

Students themselves have also found ways to honor each other, such as Luke Meyers ‘20, who is putting together a zine, a collection of artwork and other bits of creativity, for the Class of 2020.

“I wanted to put together a bunch of work and fun stuff from everyone that wants in the senior class,” Meyers said in an email to the senior class. “Especially without an art show, it’d be fun to have a little booklet that includes everyone in our class and highlights their creations.”

Alison Viana ’20, Patrick O’Brien ‘20, and Dillon Tarle ‘21 have asked seniors to submit a short video of themselves saying their college plans, favorite CCHS memory, and advice to juniors in order to create a senior send off video as their National Honors Society project.  

Critser found a way to honor the seniors through Instagram with the account @cchs2020dons, where she highlights each senior with their college, intended major, and if they committed for a sport. So far, she has honored more than 150 seniors. 

“I wanted all the seniors to have a chance to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and to get excited for the next next chapter of their lives,” Critser said. “I love reading through the comments and seeing everyone get so excited for each other, and it makes me so happy to see everyone else happy.”