Vermont’s three Catholic high schools are awarding diplomas to graduating seniors, but ceremonies are not taking place as usual because of the coronavirus pandemic.

At Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland, a graduation movie was created in conjunction with a local videographer and local photographer. “We captured all aspects of the graduation separately and combined them into a movie that [was] aired on PEG TV on June 5,” said Principal Michael Alexander.

The movie will be placed on the school website, Instagram and YouTube.

In addition to the video, posters of the graduates were placed throughout Rutland City; after the graduates were filmed receiving their diplomas they took their poster home to be displayed in front of their house.

At Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, seniors will be filmed receiving their diploma on the Rice graduation stage the week of June 15. Other components of the typical graduation ceremony will be pre-recorded to include in a virtual presentation for use if the school is not able to have an in-person ceremony on July 26. A final decision will be made on July 13, said Principal Lisa Lorenz.

Madeline Sawyer is the Rice valedictorian; Isabel Magg is salutatorian.

Two students are graduating from St. Michael High School in Brattleboro; the valedictorian is Mary Duchaney, who is joining the U.S. Air Force. Her classmate will go to college.

Their graduation will begin with Mass at 5 p.m. on June 12. Immediately after Mass, the two graduates will receive their diplomas from Father Justin Baker, pastor of St. Michael Parish, and Elaine Beam, St. Michael School principal. A small, outdoor gathering will take place after.  “We will practice all protocols for Mass as directed by [Burlington] Bishop Christopher Coyne and follow the state directives for social distancing and gathering,” Beam said.

Michael Blais Jr. is Mount St. Joseph Academy’s valedictorian; Emelia Tooley is salutatorian.

Benjamin Pencak was selected as the academy’s Class of 2020 Veritas et Puritas Award recipient.

Traditionally, 92 percent of Rice’s graduating classes go on to college, but data for the current graduation class is not expected until mid-June. The Class of 2020 has 107 members.

Nineteen of the 21 members of the MSJ graduating class are going on to college, one graduate is already employed in his trade, and one is undecided.

During Alexander’s address to the seniors, he spoke of the importance of graduation day and how it is one of but a handful of seminal events in their lives. “I also encouraged them to not consider high school graduation as the end of learning,” he said. “It is actually the point where they begin to learn outside the classroom and never stop learning because life is all about learning and growing academically, spiritually and emotionally.”

Lorenz said members of the Rice graduating class have “shown all of us just how resilient, creative, strong, faith-filled and thoughtful [they] are even in the midst of all of this” pandemic. “You truly exhibit the four pillars of Rice: Realizing your God-given talent, love of learning, serving others and seeking God.”

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