Austin Prep celebrated a special Baccalaureate Mass in honor of the 154 members of the Class of 2020 Friday, May 29 from Father Seymour Field. It was the first opportunity for graduates, faculty, and staff to come together in person since the school closure mandate in mid-March. The special program was developed to allow for the community, including parents of the graduates, to come together for mass, culminating in the delivering of diplomas to members of the Class of 2020. Photos from the event can be found here.
Most Rev. Mark O’Connell, JCD, acknowledged the unique experiences of this Senior Class, beginning with their birth in the post-September 11 era and most recently the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite how different the first 18 years of life have been for these graduates compared to generations before them, it has led to a collective sense of pride. “I find you to be quite inspiring when you make your voices heard above the noise,” Rev. O’Connell said. “Your generation has spoken up on many issues rather than simply ‘like’ things on the internet. There is great hope in our world as you leave here and enter more independence. You will engage, you will speak up, and you will hear the truth.”
Class of 2020 salutatorian, Jenna Albanese '20, put the lost time due to the school closure in perspective. “It’s more encouraging to think about the times we did have together rather than those days we lost,” Albanese said. “We have grown stronger from this challenge of being apart. I know I have grown more grateful for moments I would have taken for granted a few months ago, and I’m sure many of us feel likewise.”
Cat Bravo '20, Class of 2020 valedictorian remarked: “It might be tempting to call the end of our story a Shakespearean tragedy. But I refuse to believe that this is anywhere near true. We have all been a part of something special here at Austin Prep and made memories that we will hold onto for the rest of our lives. Instead of seeing our ending as a sad one, I choose to see it as a cliffhanger. Our stories are not over yet.”
Austin Prep’s Headmaster, James Hickey, Ph.D. P’22, ’23, ’24 reiterated the idea that recent events are not an end to the story of these graduates, but rather one small component that adds to a lifetime of experiences.
“All of us, right now, are living in a time that has been repeatedly characterized over the last few months as fragile, uncertain, difficult, unprecedented, challenging, and once-in-a-lifetime,” Dr. Hickey said. “And in too many of those instances where I encountered those words in print, in conversation, or in video, there was an inference of despair or gloom. And I have to say, in every instance, I shook my head and took exception to those inferences, especially the ones that casted doubt on the ability, on the promise, or the resiliency of your generation.”
“I have complete confidence that your generation will not let these times define you. You will define these times,” he added.
The event began with Dr. Hickey reading a prepared statement from Board of Trustees Chair, Daniel Bouchard, P’10, ’14, ’15, who congratulated the class and noted that the Class of 2020 has been collectively awarded more than $19 million in scholarships to some of the top colleges and universities in the United States.