Hundreds of cars with students and parents lined Paris Ave. in front of Holy Cross High School Saturday morning for a drive-thru ceremony to celebrate seniors on the day that would have been their graduation had COVID-19 not postponed the ceremony.
“This is a great way to send us off, even though we weren’t able to celebrate how we wanted to,” said senior Antoine Liddell Jr.
The official graduation ceremony has been moved to later this summer, but school leaders said they still wanted a way to honor seniors for their hard work, according to Eric DesOrmeaux, Chief School Officer with Holy Cross. As students and their families pulled up to the school, they were met with cheers from their teachers and received their caps, gowns and honors stoles.
“It just shows the love. This school is a family,” said Liddell’s mother Audra. “Holy Cross is a family.”
Graduating seniors were also officially inducted into the Holy Cross School Alumni Association by receiving their alumni pins and alumni association membership cards.“
"This campus is beautiful, but it’s just bricks because to be honest with you it’s the boys that make it special and to have them back on campus it feels a bit like normal for us,” said DesOrmeaux.
The school postponed its Class of 2020 Baccalaureate Mass, senior awards and their commencement ceremony to July, which will mark the 171st commencement for the school founded in 1849. For the last 10 weeks, the school has been all about virtual learning, a challenge for students and their teachers, too.
“Our teachers had about two days to get ready and go to a virtual environment,” said DesOrmeaux, who considers the experience difficult but easier than the challenge other schools faced because most of their student body has access to computers.
While the ordeal has not been what either Liddell or his family wanted for graduation -- they do note that the pandemic will shape the class of 2020.
“As a parent I think he (Antoine) has learned some things he's gonna take with him for a long time,” said Antoine Liddell Sr, Antoine’s father.
And his son agrees.“
This is going to be something that people are going to read about in history books,” said the younger Liddell. “The fact that I’ve lived through it is amazing. It’s an experience that I am going to take with me forever.”
The exact date for the Holy Cross graduation is still undetermined. What it will look like will depend on guidance from state and city leaders, according to DesOrmeaux.