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Archbishop Carroll High graduates told: 'You are the next historical hero. You are the next great saint'

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MIAMI | Archbishop Coleman Carroll High School’s class of 2020 valedictorian, Zully Moreno, treasures many fond many memories, but one particularly stands out: celebrating Mass at the school. A singer in the choir, she considered looking out at her classmates a blessing.

May 30, 2020
MIAMI

Archbishop Coleman Carroll High senior Veronica Camacho and classmates stand during the commencement ceremony held on the school grounds on May 30, 2020. Due to COVID-19, parents, families, and friends were asked to watch the ceremony from their vehicles. The school also livestreamed the ceremony on Facebook.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

May 30, 2020 MIAMI Archbishop Coleman Carroll High senior Veronica Camacho and classmates stand during the commencement ceremony held on the school grounds on May 30, 2020. Due to COVID-19, parents, families, and friends were asked to watch the ceremony from their vehicles. The school also livestreamed the ceremony on Facebook.

“When I saw your faces, I experienced the happiness of being together, and yet I knew that this time at Carroll would not last forever,” Moreno told her fellow graduates during the outdoor commencement ceremony held on school grounds.

Moreno's bittersweet realization is common for seniors as their high school years come to an end. But the graduating class of 2020 was deprived of their last two months of togetherness by the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down all schools and moved classes to remote learning. It also meant that iconic activities reserved for seniors, like prom and graduation, would be uncertain.

But the students, teachers, faculty, and family at Carroll High would not accept that. They came up with alternative forms of celebrating, including a “Quarantine Edition” of prom, a senior drive-by parade, and more. Getting dressed in cap and gown and walking across the stage to receive a diploma was a must.

Dressed in cap and gown, and evenly spaced out, Archbishop Coleman Carroll High's graduating class of 2020 listen to remarks during their outdoor commencement ceremony held May 30, 2020 on school grounds.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

Dressed in cap and gown, and evenly spaced out, Archbishop Coleman Carroll High's graduating class of 2020 listen to remarks during their outdoor commencement ceremony held May 30, 2020 on school grounds.

And that's just what they did May 30, 2020, even if the event looked strikingly different than usual. The 75 seniors were seated on the lawn adjacent to the school parking lot, all more than six feet apart from each other. Each student was permitted to bring two vehicles filled with as many family and friends as would fit. One student, Yancarlos Guerra, saved space by arriving on horseback.

Family and friends were asked to remain in or by their vehicles and watch the ceremony from there, augmented by the livestream on the school’s Facebook page. That had an added advantage as extended family members could tune in from across the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Peru, Argentina and Colombia.

Arriving and departing by horseback, graduating senior Yancarlos Guerra from Archbishop Coleman Carroll High proudly displays his diploma after outdoor commencement ceremonies held on school grounds on May 30, 2020.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

Arriving and departing by horseback, graduating senior Yancarlos Guerra from Archbishop Coleman Carroll High proudly displays his diploma after outdoor commencement ceremonies held on school grounds on May 30, 2020.

Although temperatures were warm, the graduates wore their black graduation regalia accompanied by protective face masks. Many personalized their look. Kassandrah Herrera wore white sneakers sporting the phrases “Find your story” and “Spread your wings.”

Several students also creatively decorated their caps, adding whimsical or inspirational quotes like, “Oh the places you will go” (Dr. Seuss); “Your future is what you make it, so make it a good one” (Doc Brown, “Back to the Future”); and “Four years later” (time card from “SpongeBob SquarePants”).

Collectively, Archbishop Carroll’s class of 2020 obtained over $1 million in scholarships and grants and performed 7,880 hours of community service. Students have been accepted to local colleges such as Miami Dade College, the University of Miami and Barry; to state schools such as Florida International University and Florida State; and to universities across the country such as Catholic U., Penn State, and Embry Riddle.

In addition to academic and awards of distinction, Carroll High also recognized the first batch of graduates from the school’s Achieve program, established four years ago for students with special needs.

Carmelite Sister Margaret Ann Laechelin, the school's principal, called the class of 2020 “a gift and a treasure.”

“Their lives are not controlled by COVID-19 or any other external event, person or material thing. Created in the image and likeness of God, they will use the power of their choices to make our world a better place.”

She reminded graduates that “like faith, a great education is worthless if it does not make life better for somebody else.”

In her own address, valedictorian Moreno agreed.

“We are empowered to overcome any challenge. Whether it comes in the form of an epidemic, or economic hardships, or a rapidly changing world, you, my dear friends, are the answers," she said. "You are the next historical hero. You are the next great saint. You are the next perfect father or perfect mother. It’s you.”

With COVID-19 safety measures in effect, parents, families and friends of Archbishop Coleman Carroll High graduates were requested to wait by their cars, or behind the school's sidewalk, as they watched the commencement ceremony May 30, 2020.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

With COVID-19 safety measures in effect, parents, families and friends of Archbishop Coleman Carroll High graduates were requested to wait by their cars, or behind the school's sidewalk, as they watched the commencement ceremony May 30, 2020.


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