When our world was interrupted on March 13, we vowed to our seniors and their parents that Graduation Mass and Graduation would be our top priorities as we attempted to piece together some semblance of normalcy and closure for the Class of 2020. We have held firm in our commitment to those priorities and have never wavered.
Over the past several months, weeks, days and - as of this email - even hours, we have exhausted all possibilities regarding venues and scenarios for Graduation Mass and Graduation. Many of you parents reached out to us with thoughtful suggestions for consideration. I can tell you that we considered all of them, and I thank you for reaching out to us with possible solutions.
We began making contingency plans for Graduation and Graduation Mass in March while also clinging to hope that we would still be able to conduct both events at their originally scheduled venues, St. Dominic Church and UNO Lakefront Arena. We have explored the possibility of holding these events on campus in an effort to bring the senior class home to provide closure to this school year. We communicated with New Orleans City Councilmembers and their chiefs of staff; Public Engagement Management of NOLA Ready and New Orleans Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness; and members of the New Orleans Department of Health, all of whom regretfully confirmed that the gathering size limits in Orleans Parish are 100; thus, a gathering of 250 individuals would not be allowed if we are still in Phase 2, which seems likely for July 31 if current trends continue.
Following Governor John Bel Edwards and Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s press conferences on Wednesday, July 8, gathering sizes in indoor facilities in Orleans Parish have been further restricted to no more than 25 people. We also explored the possibility of holding these events off campus in Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes - both indoors and outdoors - in order to have everyone together for one or both events. Our first priority was scheduling the Pontchartrain Center, but unfortunately, our graduation date was not available. From there, we contacted a number of other venues throughout the surrounding area.
Having exhausted all possibilities, we have solidified our Graduation Mass and Graduation Ceremony plans. Our Graduation Mass will be held on Thursday, July 30 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Metairie. The Graduation Mass will be open only to the graduates of Class of 2020 in order to comply with Jefferson Parish gathering restrictions of no more than 250 people in a house of worship.
Our Graduation Ceremony will also take place at St. Catherine of Siena Church and will be split into three separate ceremonies on Friday, July 31 at 2:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. The Class of 2020 will be split into thirds, allowing every parent/guardian to accompany their son and sit with him for the duration of the ceremony, as has been our long-standing tradition at Brother Martin. This includes any special floor seating requests that were made in January. We are so grateful to Father Tim Hedrick, pastor at St. Catherine of Siena, for welcoming us into this sacred space for our celebrations.
We are finalizing a number of details for both events, including live streaming capabilities and photography, and we will communicate all of this as soon as possible.
We feel that this plan offers the best of both possible worlds at this time: the Class of 2020 has the opportunity to congregate as one class at Graduation Mass on Thursday evening, and parents have the opportunity to experience the full, traditional Brother Martin High School graduation ceremony with their son on Friday.
Please know that we exhausted possibilities all over the state from Orleans Parish, Jefferson Parish, and St. Tammany Parish in an effort to conduct one ceremony for our entire graduating class and families before reaching this decision.
As of the most current state and parish-wide guidelines, the Graduation Ceremony will be divided according to the following alpha schedule:
Since the Class of 2020 has five Valedictorians, we will ask either one or two to be present at each ceremony (even if that does not follow the alpha schedule above).
All members of the Class of 2020 must comply with all school regulations regarding grooming expectations. Dress for the Graduation Mass is a coat and tie. Graduates will wear their cap and gown for the Graduation Ceremony. Everyone in attendance at both events must wear a face covering in order to enter the church.
You will receive more specific logistical information regarding both events from Ms. Kelly Wild, Assistant Principal for Student Services, on Monday, July 27.
The leadership, administration, faculty, and staff at Brother Martin have worked tirelessly in an effort to give this senior class and its parents all that they deserve with these two special rites of passage as graduates of Brother Martin High School and partners in our shared mission. While these circumstances are quite different from what we had originally planned, we look forward to celebrating with all of you on both July 30 and July 31.
Your partner in Mission,
Ryan Gallagher '00