Although DeSales High School has been forced to implement a virtual graduation for the class of 2020 amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the school is doing its best to make the digital ceremony as authentic as possible.
DeSales will hold its baccalaureate service for the seniors May 28 via livestream from the high school chapel. The ceremony would have normally been held at St. Paul Catholic Church in Westerville.
Then on May 30, the school will stream its virtual commencement ceremony.
The school will stream both events on sfdstallions.org.
DeSales has been busy lately putting together the commencement presentation. Adhering to social-distancing measures, the school called in each of its 192 graduates last week to the high school gymnasium, where students were videotaped walking the aisle of the gym to receive their diploma from their parents or guardians.
This footage will be featured in the digital graduation presentation, which will air during the time the traditional ceremony would have taken place at 9 a.m. May 30.
"Our social media people and community relations department are working exceptionally hard to make this very much like the ceremony would be if we were in person," principal Dan Garrick said.
The digital presentation will start with 1970 class president Scott Pharion delivering a speech to the graduates followed by a digital procession. Senior Alexa Kreuzer will then sing the national anthem.
Athletics director Tom Neubert and Julie Barber, director of enrollment management and softball coach, will deliver a prayer afterward.
Senior Frankie Bonte, one of 12 valedictorians, will deliver the first valedictory address.
Senior Megan Kelleher will then perform a piano interlude. Senior Elizabeth Renkin will then deliver the second valedictory address.
Footage of the diploma presentations will follow, with a still photograph of each student with their diploma that identifies where they are attending college or detailing their future plans.
During this segment, Garrick will lead the seniors in moving their graduation tassels from right to left.
A parent reflection by Antonella Iacobone, department chair of world language, and Michele Moriarty, assistant director of advancement, will follow. Iacobone and Moriarty both have sons in DeSales' graduating class: seniors Giuliano Iacobone and Colin Moriarty.
The ceremony will conclude with a principal's reflection by Garrick and the alma mater by senior Brianna Stokes, and a virtual recessional thereafter.
"I'm really excited by what our people are doing from just a creative standpoint to make this as close to the event as possible without physically being present," Garrick said. "It's amazing the steps that have been taken from a technology standpoint."
Garrick said there are details he hasn't revealed because he wants them to be a surprise.
While being upset about not having a traditional graduation, a few seniors said they appreciate the lengths the school is going to make the ceremony feel as close to the real thing as possible.
"It's not exactly what we all planned as seniors. However, what Mr. Garrick has planned I think is very good for the circumstances that we're in," said Kelleher, who plans to study mechanical engineering at Notre Dame. "Given the circumstances, the school is definitely doing a lot to make it special for us, and we're hoping we can all be reunited before we all leave for college."
"My classmates are a little bit disappointed, but I'm sure all seniors across Ohio are," said Bonte, who plans to double major in mechanical engineering and dance at Case Western Reserve. "But I think our school's doing a really good job about making everybody still feel very connected and recognized as seniors as a class. That's really exciting that we still have an opportunity to be recognized as seniors even though we weren't in school for May."
"Obviously it's not going to be the same, but I can see that they're really, really trying to give us the best experience that they can," said William Shafer, who will play soccer and study finance at Wright State.
"I can tell that the teachers feel as bad about it as we do, and they feel terrible for us, so I know they're really trying to put something together that's going to be really special and is something we can remember."