Andrea Turner, valedictorian for the Cardinal Newman Class of 2020, addresses her fellow classmates during the school’s virtual graduation May 18. To view the class’s senior memories and commencement speeches, click on the arrow over the image.
Link to video: https://youtu.be/QTTQo5J9kCU
In recent weeks, the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram news feeds of John Carroll High School, Cardinal Newman High School and Saint John Paul II Academy have been flooded with photos and videos showcasing graduating seniors in profile features, graduate parades, “honk for senior” signs, athlete highlights and video messages from teachers and lower classmen. These thoughtful and heartfelt deeds—although unable to take the place of walking across the stage towards a diploma—are cherished by graduates throughout the diocese.
In the same vein, the Diocese of Palm Beach would like to honor the senior class of 2020 through a short series of class profiles. The Florida Catholic asked each valedictorian to answer reflection questions on behalf of their class. In this issue, we honor Cardinal Newman High School Class of 2020. Here’s what Andrea Turner, valedictorian, had to say about graduating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How have you stayed in touch with your classmates during the quarantine?
A lot of us use Facetime and Zoom to stay in touch with one another. We try to call each other regularly and sometimes schedule Zoom meetings to eat lunch together during the school day. Social media has helped a lot as well, as we use Snapchat and Instagram to keep one another updated and connected.
Did you celebrate prom or graduation in any special way while practicing social distancing?
Our school encouraged students to dress up for prom and send pictures of ourselves to the school’s social media networks. We made TikTok videos, dancing with our friends and showing off our outfits, or commemorated the night on Zoom calls with our friends.
Our graduation was virtual, as was the Baccalaureate Mass. While this is not what many of us envisioned these celebrations to look like, I believe I speak for the class of 2020 when I say that we are very thankful for the staff and administrators of Cardinal Newman High School for working their hardest to make sure that we have these ceremonies and were recognized.
How have you maintained your spirituality with your classmates during this time?
I believe that our class has really maintained our spirituality through our teachers and the staff at Newman. They continue to remind us of God’s love and the strength we can draw from him, and from our own faith during these complicated times. Our teachers continue to pray with us in class, the Cardinal Newman Youth Group holds virtual meetings regularly, and there have been various virtual prayer services and Masses available for us to stream and attend.
Additionally, I believe that we as a class have been able to maintain our spirituality through our resilience, as we draw strength from one another and from the faith of our classmates. Our faith has been a constant during these times, bringing us closer to God and to each other.
Looking back, what would you say is the biggest accomplishment or important moment for your senior class this year?
I think the most important moment during our senior year was increasing school spirit during this year’s Homecoming week. The senior class really came together to promote participation and celebration. We strengthened our Newman pride and boosted student involvement. We all had a great time and really bonded as a class and a student body as a whole. This has been a huge factor in keeping us connected during the pandemic.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned from this time away from your school? Was there anything positive that came out of this di?cult time?
One of the most important things our class has learned in this time away is that nothing can be taken for granted. We’ve learned to make the most of our time and to count our blessings. We’ve gathered skills that will help us later in life, such as the time-management skills necessary for college and adaptability that will assist us in the workforce and the future. A positive thing that has come out of this difficult time has been the realization of our strength and the support we have from family, from friends, the Newman community, and always from God.
Do you have any words of wisdom for the next class of seniors?
To the class of 2021, the class of 2020 would say to enjoy all the moments and memories that the year brings. As we learned this year, you never know when they will be your last. Cherish the time you get to walk through the halls, to be with your friends, to learn from your teachers and truly engage with others. Enjoy the little moments, every sports game, every performance and give everything your all, because as our class has found out, it can all end very unexpectedly. Please make the most of your year because senior year is the time to celebrate all your years of high school.
If you could use a quote from a religious figure as a motto, what would that be for the class of 2020?
I believe that the quote every student at our school knows, said by our namesake St. John Henry Cardinal Newman, is a powerful motto: “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”
We have had to change, to adapt to the current world’s situation, and make the most of it. We have learned a valuable lesson, one taught to us as we started our journey at Newman and one that we finally truly understand as we get ready to leave. We have learned to change, and we will continue to change, as we seek to live a perfect life under God.
A Word from the Principal
When asked what word comes to mind in describing the Cardinal Newman High School class of 2020, Dr. Christine Higgins, principal, said, “I think the class of 2020 are trailblazers. They are in a unique position that will require them to be innovative and courageous at the same time. They will need to rely on their strong foundation of faith, character and perseverance as they head out into the world where there is much opportunity but also uncertainty. Our Catholic schools have prepared them well for these challenges.”