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Loyola Academy Celebrates 110th Commencement Exercises

On Friday, July 31—the feast day of St. Ignatius—Loyola Academy celebrated its 110th Commencement Exercises in the school Chapel. Class of 2020 graduates arrived with just two guests and proceeded through a modified ceremony in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The late July date was rescheduled from May 23 and enabled students to mark the occasion of their graduation in a safe and special way.
Adhering to the guidelines of Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan, small groups of fifteen graduates and their guests rotated through abbreviated graduation exercises during fifteen minute time slots, which had been reserved online in advance. For safety reasons, graduates were accompanied only by two guests and walk-ins were not accommodated.

Graduates and their guests entered through the Piazza, which served as a socially distant staging area, before following floor markers and signage down the athletic hallway toward the T and eventually to Loyola’s Chapel. TVs stationed along the route displayed a special video message on loop. Speaking to graduates in a previously recorded award ceremony, Loyola Academy Principal Charlie Heintz introduced Class of 2020 Valedictorian Marie C. Tagliavia, who will attend the University of Chicago in the fall.

Marie delivered an insightful reflection on the unusual circumstances that befell the Class of 2020 and brought their senior year to a screeching halt.

“Sometimes that last real day at school isn’t filled with the festivities that should come after four years of pushing yourself to new heights, expanding your mind, and trying new experiences. ...Sometimes that last day is an unassuming Thursday in March. 

“...We must choose to keep the unfinished conclusion in mind as a reminder that every single moment is a gift, and that we must never take for granted the excitement of a homecoming football game in the stadium, the pleasant surprise of a bake sale in the piazza, or simply the warmth of a friend’s smile in the halls.

So I ask you now and in the years to come: when darkness overwhelms your life, will you stumble around in the night or will you choose to look up and admire the stars?”

After the valedictorian’s address, Mr. Heintz announced the Graduate at Graduation Awards, given annually to two well-rounded seniors, one young man and one young woman, who best resemble the Jesuit ideal of being intellectually competent, open to growth, religious, loving, physically fit and committed to doing justice. The 2020 Graduate at Graduation Award recipients were Elizabeth Leinenweber, who will attend Marquette University next year, and Matthew Enghauser, who will study at Regis University.

Fausone Medalist Senite Barih and Rebarchak Award winner Owen Zidar were honored at Loyola’s Baccalaureate Mass in May and also featured in the looped video message.

Mr. Heintz then introduced the 2020 Educator of the Year award, which recognizes a teacher for his or her outstanding contribution to the formation of students as voted by the senior class. The award was presented to Mr. Mike Gregg of Campus Ministry. And earning the 2020 Staff Excellence award, as voted by her colleagues in May, was School Nurse Mrs. Corry Braasch.

Once students and their guests arrived in the Chapel, diplomas were presented by Loyola Academy President Rev. Patrick E. McGrath, SJ, and Mrs. Nancy Paridy, chair of the Board of Trustees. In keeping with a cherished Loyola Academy tradition that honors the legacy of multigenerational Ramblers, sons and daughters and grandchildren of Loyola and Marillac alumni—and those of trustees, faculty and staff—walked across the stage together. Mr. Tim Kane ’86 of the English Department read the names of graduates.

With a belated date and substantial modifications to keep pace with the necessary health and safety guidelines of the times, the Class of 2020 graduation is one that won’t soon be forgotten. We wish all our graduates the best as they embark on the next chapter!

To watch a full broadcast of the 2020 graduation ceremony on RamblerStream—your pass to free, HD presentations of Loyola Academy Masses, special events and more—click here.
    • Graduation Highlights

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