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WATCH NOW: Final graduates from Holy Cross Regional Catholic School honored with parade

WATCH NOW: Final graduates from Holy Cross Regional Catholic School honored with parade

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With congratulatory signs and the honking of car horns, the Holy Cross Regional Catholic School community participated in a parade Saturday, recognizing the school’s 141st — and final — graduating class.

Saturday would have been graduation day for the school’s seven 2020 graduates, but it also would have been the final graduation in the school’s 140-year history. The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced in November 2019 the school would close at the end of the 2019-20 school year because of financial and enrollment struggles.

With large group gatherings discouraged because of the COVID-19 pandemic, school administrators opted to hold a graduate parade in place of the traditional ceremony.

Members of the graduating class — Jordan Ferguson, Haden Golden, Madison Luther, Anna Mooney, Keon Waller and Terrence Ward — stood in the school’s parking lot with their families while teachers, underclassmen and other members of the school community drove by, honking and cheering for the graduates.

The seventh senior, Maria Mrad, was unable to attend the celebration.

Director of Student Services Julia Wingfield said the school is planning to hold a traditional graduation ceremony around mid-July, if it is safe to do so. If not, she said, the school will release a virtual ceremony including traditional graduation speeches and music.

Valedictorian Anna Mooney said it “meant a lot” the community came to show support for her and her fellow graduates.

“This year was a tough one, but we made it,” Mooney said. “It was great to see the community come out for us, and I’m excited to carry on the Holy Cross legacy.”

Three members of the graduating class began this school year as juniors — Ferguson, Golden and Luther.

When she found out the school would be closing after this year, Luther said she immediately began trying to figure out a way to graduate early.

“I’ve been here since pre-K,” Luther said. “It’s always been a goal of mine to graduate from Holy Cross and I wasn’t going to get so close and then have to finish high school somewhere else.”

Luther said she took 12 classes during the 2019-20 school year, some online, so she could finish before the school closed.

Golden’s father graduated from the school, so graduating from Holy Cross was a family tradition he wanted to be a part of.

Wingfield said she has been inspired by the resilience of this graduating class.

“This is a go-with-the-flow group,” Wingfield said. “They worked really hard through this unprecedented time and we’re excited to celebrate them.”

After learning the school would close, some school staff hoped to open a new school — Holy Cross Academy — in the fall, with the support of students and parents from Holy Cross Regional Catholic School. But a post on the academy’s website said the school will not open in August at Centenary United Methodist Church on Rivermont Avenue as planned, as the COVID- 19 pandemic halted planning and fundraising efforts.

Mooney said Saturday’s celebration felt right.

“It feels like a proper ending to this chapter — for us and for the school,” Mooney said. “We’re going out with a bang.”

Jamey Cross covers education. Reach her at (434) 385-5532.

Jamey Cross covers education. Reach her at (434) 385-5532.

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