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​Drive-in graduation: St. James made it happen

July 10, 2020 | posted by Dr. Jennifer Grenardo, Ed.D., principal of St. James the Apostle School

Topics: Catholic Schools, Hope for the Future

Drive-in graduation: St. James made it happen

Twenty three carloads of eight grade graduates and their family members anxiously awaited on Nunes Street on the Southside of San Antonio May 22 to enter the gates of their precious Catholic school that many attended for the past 11 years. Church bells resounded, horns honked, and “Pomp and Circumstance” played as cars entered the courtyard of St. James the Apostle Catholic School to attend their first-ever drive-in graduation. Students exited their cars wearing the traditional cap and gown accessorized with face masks. They sat eight feet apart in front of the outdoor classrooms. Once the music ended, the ceremony began.

Dr. Jennifer Grenardo, Ed.D., principal, accompanied by the Vice Principal Sister Debbie Walker, FMA, invited all the graduates to stand to begin with a prayer service. After a reading about love from 1 Corinthians 13, graduate Jessie Garcia, who was diagnosed with cancer just before COVID-19 began, came forward to crown Mary. Co-salutatorian Gianna Felan shared a heart-felt refection about how St. James the Apostle taught its students how to show love to others by listening without interrupting, enjoying without complaining, and forgiving without punishing, thus concluding the prayer service.

The graduation commenced with inspiring words from fellow co-salutatorian, Matthew Martinez. He referenced a quote from basketball great Michael Jordan saying, “Some people want it to happen, some people wish it to happen, and some people MAKE it happen. Dr. G and Sister Debbie were determined to recognize this eighth grade class, and I would like all of us to give them a round of applause for figuring out a way to make this happen for us.”

For the conferring of diplomas, each student picked up his/her diploma from a decorated table and posed for a social-distanced photo with Dr. Grenardo and the pastor of the church, Father Joseph Kandeor. As each name was called, families honked and cheered within their vehicles to celebrate this monumental moment. Valedictorian Joshua Medel lastly addressed his classmates. “This pandemic affected every single one of our lives in a major way. Students have to learn from home, parents have to work from home, and teachers have to teach from home. This virus is a large obstacle that we have to overcome by staying home and distancing ourselves … I feel like despite all of this year's short comings, all of us here have something to be grateful for. We are all safe and looked after by Jesus Christ and each other.”

The ceremony ended with a blessing from the pastor as he sent the students into the world to be a light for others.