McNicholas to hold Class of 2021 graduation at Riverbend

At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, there were many uncertainties about how the year would go. One of those uncertainties dealt with the Class of 2021’s graduation. Will there be a graduation for the Class of 2021? Will the graduation for the Class of 2021 be similar to the individual graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020? There were so many questions people wanted answered.  However, the uncertainties were finally resolved on February 25 when Governor Mike DeWine announced that schools may start planning for proms and graduations in Ohio as long as they are done safely. McNicholas High School was finally given permission to hold a proper graduation for the senior class.

On Saturday, May 22, the Class of 2021 will be granted the opportunity to attend both a graduation ceremony along with a Baccalaureate Mass all in one location unlike any other graduations in the past. A total of 119 senior students will be given the privilege to walk down the stage and receive their diplomas. The ceremony will take place on Saturday morning at 9:15 a.m. at the PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center. The graduates should arrive at the PNC Pavilion by 8:30 a.m. Parking will be available for both the seniors and family members in the Sunlite Pool lot.

This is McNick’s first experience using the Riverbend location for a graduation ceremony. Principal Dave Mueller said, “When we were looking for a graduation site, COVID was still very strong. We were looking for a place that was outside and yet undercover and then had plenty of room to hold the number of people we needed. We were very fortunate that a friend of McNick is the director of the PNC Pavilion and Mrs. Farwick knew that. So she was able to get in touch with him to help us get the arrangement. We were very lucky because in any other year, we wouldn’t even be able to use it because it would be booked for musical acts.”

It is very uncommon for McNicholas to hold both the graduation ceremony and the Baccalaureate Mass all in one location. In order to obey the safety precautions and restrictions given by health officials, McNicholas thought it best to combine these two events in one location for the safety of all participants.

Mueller stated, “There is no church that we know of nearby that is big enough to hold everybody who we would want to be there and be socially distanced in the way that we would have needed it to. We had to get special permission from the Archdiocese to hold mass outside and we thought it was a way to take advantage of the outside venue that we were looking for and put them both together. We are very grateful that we’re able to have the whole class together. Last year, it was necessary for us to do individual graduations over the course of four days, so the Class of 2020 was never able to get together.” 

Families will be issued tickets for a block of six adjacent seats. Unfortunately, no more than six tickets can be given for each student family due to the required social distancing given by health authorities. If by chance another family gives another family a ticket, they must arrange for that person using the ticket to sit with the group that provided their extra ticket. No group size can exceed the number of six people.

Along with the new restrictions and precautions, there are still normal rules and regulations that senior students must follow. All seniors must wear their gaps and gowns to both the Baccalaureate Mass and graduation ceremony. The female graduates should wear a light colored or white dress, or blouse and skirt. Heels, sandals, and wedges should be worn along with any other type of dress shoe. Flip flops and soccer sandals are not permitted. The male graduates must be clean shaven along with wearing dress pants, dress shirt, tie, dark socks, and dress shoes.

During the ceremony, there will be many speakers from both the senior class and the staff of McNicholas High School. Administrative Assistant Jennifer Tumser will be giving the speech from the faculty and staff. Senior Anna Rahner will be speaking on the behalf of the Class of 2021 during the graduation ceremony, and senior Bryan Maxey will be giving the call to worship at the beginning of the Baccalaureate Mass, which is a brief talk at the beginning of the Baccalaureate and used to set the tone for the rest of the ceremonies. Along with that, Father Dave Endres will be conducting the Baccalaureate Mass on Saturday morning.

Even though circumstances may be different this year, there are still similarities that will merge with the traditional graduation ceremonies of the past. “The parts of the graduation are very similar. We will have a talk by one of the seniors to welcome everybody. We will also have a talk by an adult. I think one aspect of tradition that people will appreciate that is continuing is Mr. Lowden is going to be playing the bagpipes before the Baccalaureate Mass to welcome the senior students as they come in,” Mueller said.

The Class of 2021 has been through so much this past year and fortunately they are able to celebrate all their accomplishments during graduation ceremony. Even though it may look different compared to the “normal” graduation ceremonies in the past, seniors are still given the chance to walk across the stage and receive their diploma with both their classmates and families watching in the audience. Unlike last year’s graduation for the Class of 2020, the upcoming graduates will have the opportunity to stand with all of their classmates and celebrate their final moments together as the Class of 2021.

“I’m so grateful to the seniors and their parents for the way they’ve weathered the whole COVID experience and kept their chins up helping everybody else in the school. I’m really happy that we were able to gather them all together,” Mueller stated.

The location for both the graduation ceremony and the Baccalaureate Mass will take place at the PNC Pavilion at the Riverbed Music Center. Even though there are different circumstances compared to years past, the seniors will still have the opportunity to walk down the stage to get their diplomas.  

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