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Keynote speaker Angela Moloney told the Everest Collegiate Class of 2020 that they likely never expected to go to the drive-in movie theatre and come out with a high school diploma. But that is precisely what the 25 graduates did on Sunday, June 28.

The girls’ valedictorian Mary Beth Williams used the number of days that they had been counting down for graduation as a motif in her speech, pointing to the fact that they had all been incorrect in the number of days due to the school closures for COVID. The number of days for graduation was also increased by the commencement exercises being pushed back from their originally scheduled date of May 17.

The setting for the celebrations was unique. Ordinarily the baccalaureate Mass is held immediately before the commencement exercises at Everest Collegiate. This year there was a semi-private Mass for graduates and their parents on Saturday morning.

Collectively the class was accepted to 54 different colleges and universities across the country and abroad. They completed 2,500+ service hours during their years in high school; average 25+ on the ACT, and amassed 3.5 million dollars in scholarship offers.

It was an atmosphere of true joy and emotion at this long-awaited celebration. There were few dry eyes in the audience as the students speakers shared their reflections. Valedictorians Mary Beth Williams and Eduardo Dominguez were followed by Integer Award recipients Colleeen Walker and Fernando Caccia.

Colleen invited her fellow graduate to see how the discipline required of them at school had prepared them for precisely this moment. The rules they had followed for four years were not just rules, they were a preparation to do hard things in life. “This is what Everest means when they say they “build character.” It was never about the huge life changing moments. It’s about the little moments, the moments that prepare us for real life. The self-denial, the obedience, the perseverance are not just about keeping us in line. It’s about forming us into strong and virtuous men and women.” Together as a class, they rose to the occasion, and the entire community celebrated with them.

Fernando shared his reflections from the circumstances the class has gone through, “We’ve learned to be resilient and have each other’s backs. I hope, no, I know for many years to come. Guys, we are living out history. Things will never go back to the way they were. We’re going out into uncharted waters… We can’t choose what happens to us, but we can always choose how we respond to it. How will you respond to it? You gotta feed the good wolf… How will you respond when you don’t get the job you wanted? How will you respond when you lose someone you hold so close to your heart? How will you respond when all odds are against you? If you’ve been listening to this speech, you’d know the answer is to get back on your feet and say to adversity “not today”. If not for yourself, for your family, for your friends, for Jesus.”

As is Everest tradition, students processed out and received a balloon. Together they prayed a final decade of the rosary before released their balloons just as they did at their kindergarten graduation.

Class of 2020, congratulations! We wish you the best.

Photos and video links will be available for families of the graduates after the holiday weekend.