Boston, MA: Friday, July 31 – After a spring filled with challenge, change, and uncertainty, nearly all of the 273 seniors in Boston College High School’s Class of 2020 gathered on campus for the 156th Commencement Exercises. In one of the most unprecedented, but most certainly meaningful, graduation ceremonies in the school’s storied history, students wore masks and sat socially distanced with their parents, guardians, or family members. President of the Student Council, Thomas Potts, emphasized this very idea in his opening welcome to the audience.
It was a cherished tradition once in doubt of even being possible. But Principal Adam Lewis and school leadership knew the importance of giving students the opportunity to return to campus before becoming alumni: “We needed to give our students and families closure over the summer before they move on in September, while they are still ‘ours.’ This commencement ceremony has been the product of intense reflection and consideration of all sorts of possibilities” Lewis shared.
On stage, before each young man stopped to pick-up the diploma placed before him and remove his mask for a photo, President Grace Regan compared the graduates with the Golden Jubilarian Class of 1970 also being honored: “While the Class of 1970 was affected by the violence at Kent State, the Class of 2020 has experienced the March for Our Lives movement. 1970 witnessed the Civil Rights movement; and these young men have affirmed that Black Lives Matter. Our alumni aimed for the Moon, and someday one of these graduates might set foot on Mars. We can never know the true historical significance of the moments in which we live, but at BC High we prepare our graduates to be leaders where it matters and when it counts.”
Her message was echoed by commencement speaker John Barros ’92, Chief of Economic Development for the City of Boston: “What a year to start a new chapter of your lives. You will walk out of here to a world that needs you more than ever; a world that needs men that have been trained to see the other, as we awaken to a reckoning with the racial injustices that continue to permeate our society; a world that needs men that have been discerning the best ways to help their neighbors as we deal with the realities of a pandemic that has laid bare the health inequities that come from the disparities we find in social determinants of health. You have been educated in the Jesuit tradition that prepares for this, one that was established almost five centuries ago by St. Ignatius Loyola to be intellectually competent, loving and committed to doing justice.”
Columbia-bound student speaker and National Merit Hispanic Winner Tomás Trejo finished with a hopeful exhortation to his classmates: “I want you to know that life is not a straight line. It is filled with twists and turns, peaks and valleys. And trust me, right now, it is extremely difficult to remove yourself from the bubble of frustration and despair that confines you. But doing so allows you to see the opportunities to make the most from our current situation. What are BC High alumni doing? They are collecting devices to donate to a medical center facilitating communication between family members in the hospital. They are creating brainstorming ideas and fundraising for a scholarship fund dedicated to students of color. So, I ask you. What are you doing about your complacency? What are you doing about your ignorance? What are you doing about your prejudice? And most importantly, what are you doing about your privilege? It will not be easy, but no change ever came with ease. As BC High alumni, we have an obligation, a moral responsibility to ask these hard questions of ourselves so that we can lead.”
For a full photo album, please visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmPPat1a