Judge Memorial CHS celebrates parade-style graduation

Friday, Jun. 19, 2020
Judge Memorial CHS celebrates parade-style graduation
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By Laura Vallejo
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — Extraordinary and creative efforts were made on June 14, as the Judge Memorial Catholic High School Class of 2020 celebrated their graduation.
Neither the required social distancing and face masks, nor the fear and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, prevented Judge Memorial from finding unique ways of celebrating the graduating class.
Many hours of preparation were put into the celebration. Students were called in individually to film their traditional procession into the auditorium. The Baccalaureate Mass was videotaped and posted online, and the graduation ceremony took place in the school’s parking lot.
The driveway into the parking lot was lined with photos of the members of the Class of 2020. As the graduates got out of their cars, they were saluted by the school’s faculty and staff, who wore face masks and maintained the proper social distancing, but that didn’t prevent the cheers and praise.
The students watched a prerecorded invocation given by Holy Cross Sister Catherine Kamphaus, associate superintendent of Utah Catholic Schools. Then each student was called to a stage to receive his or her diploma from Principal Patrick Lambert and Utah Catholic Schools Superintendent Mark Longe. 
The valedictorian for the JMCHS Class of 2020, Eric Stevens, received the Utah Seal of Biliteracy, indicating a high level of proficiency in English and a world language; was an active member of the student council; was named to the winter Academic All-State team in swimming and was a team captain, among other honors.
Reflecting on how the graduating class was given a unique opportunity by the pandemic to act as role models for generations to come, Stevens said that the pressure forced them to innovate and to change.
“Successful individuals actively pursue new ways to improve themselves; more importantly, they are disciplined with their time and think in the long term. They recognize that the hardships are temporary. This mind set should be applied to our future actions,” he said.
Relationships are important because people invest their time and energy in others, Stevens said, so he urged his peers to “work toward building nurturing relationships, honest and trusting ones.”
Coming together and being united has never been more crucial, he added.
“Helping others by protecting ourselves and complete strangers could make the difference. ... Through this pandemic, we, the Class of 2020, have realized how our individual behaviors can impact the entire community. The current situation presents us with the opportunity to use the Judge education to not only better ourselves but to wisely choose our actions and reflect on the impact that they will have on our community,” he said.
In her salutatorian address, Ellie Han recalled the Class of 2020’s first finals, first dances, first friends, and then added, “but after many firsts, we have been robbed of many lasts – last lunch together, last class together, last hugs.”
Han, a National Merit Scholar recipient, also remembered surviving not only the school’s uniform policy and numerous finals, but also “earthquakes, countless snowstorms and we are surviving an entire pandemic. ... Looking back, no matter how good or bad these last four years have been, they truly have been unforgettable. … This pandemic has taught us to take every opportunity and appreciate all we are given. We are strong and we are resilient, we are the Class of 2020.”
Recognizing that the 2020 commencement was not the traditional celebration for departing seniors, Principal Lambert said that, nevertheless, the members of the Class of 2020 “are leaving legacies.”
Lambert said he was proud of the students’ unity, and that they embraced diversity and inclusivity.
“I saw you holding your classmates, you were all together; it was cool to support each other. ... As we part, I hope that you continue to know how important your impact is to all of those around you,” he said.
When the course of the school year unexpectedly changed in March due to the pandemic, the students were asked to adapt, he said.
“Through this adaptation you were forced to be innovators and forced to be outside of the comfort zones,” he said, adding that the school community mourned their loss “through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance.”
Despite the loss of the traditional, “we saw extraordinary efforts; we saw you balancing new workloads and classwork, we saw you taking on new responsibilities, we saw you looking after one another,” he said, and these memories “left permanent marks.”
All that cemented even more the JMCHS philosophy of “builders of a most just society,” he said. 
He also expressed his gratitude for the “Herculean efforts” of the students’ parents during the last few months of the 2020 school year.
“It was an honor to walk beside them, it was an honor to walk beside our faculty and staff, it was an honor to walk beside you. ... You all provided such strength to our Judge Memorial community,” he said.
The Judge Memorial Catholic High School Class of 2020 had an overall GPA of 3.30 unweighted, and a 3.42 weighted GPA. The class included one National Merit Scholar recipient and seven Academic All-State recognitions. Of the seniors, 46 percent graduated with honors. They were accepted to 50 different colleges, with a total of $13.764 million in scholarships.

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