Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, Mount Carmel School was able to hold its 60th commencement ceremony for its graduates last June 20, 2020, at its traditional venue inside the Mount Carmel Cathedral, while complying with social distancing rules to ensure everyone’s safety.
This year, Mount Carmel School graduated 46 seniors, six of whom attended Mount Carmel School since first-grade. Out of the 46 seniors, MCS recognized many students for the special awards.
Kalea Lou Bullan Borja was recognized as the valedictorian for the Class of 2020, having earned the highest grade point average in her high school career at MCS. The salutatorian award for the second-highest GPA was earned by Danielle Jaden Kekoa Yamagata-Santos.
“I would like to extend my greatest appreciation to all the teachers, faculty, staff, administration, family and friends who helped, supported, and loved me to this point of my life,” said Borja. “However, I am most grateful for my mother. Without seeing how hard she worked just to bring me to Mount Carmel so that I could receive a Catholic education, I would not strive this much. She made me more than what I was destined to be.”
In her speech, Yamagata-Santos said, “I’m most grateful to my family, friends, and school faculty. They have given me the tools and support to finish high school off strong. Looking back at it, I’ll miss the close bond between our class. Even though our class is small compared to other graduating classes in other schools, it doesn’t make us feel like we missed out on anything.”
“We are extremely happy to be able to give a proper send-off for our high school graduates,” said school president Dr. Galvin Deleon Guerrero. “When our leadership team was informed that having a face-to-face ceremony was an option, many felt it necessary to make this event possible for our students.”
Among the graduating families, Mount Carmel School also recognizes the “Loyalty Families” who have chosen to send their child to MCS for 12 consecutive years. One of the loyalty parents includes Luz Rabang. “I feel incredibly grateful to be a parent from a school who has worked incredibly hard to make sure that our graduates get the most out of this ceremony despite the challenges that we are facing,” she said.
Among the subject awards, Borja was awarded the English Award with Jim Michael Vergara Ham earning the honorable mention; Yamagata-Santos was awarded the Science Award with Lleyton Andre Albuen Javier earning the honorable mention; Haesu “John” Yeo was awarded the Mathematics Award with Mr. Kichang “Jack” Jeoung earning the honorable mention; Ham was awarded the Social Science Award with Javier earning the honorable mention; Casey Jo Pathil was awarded the Computer Science Award with Yamagata-Santos earning the honorable mention; Julia Ikeda Taguchi was awarded the Foreign Language Award with William Blake Camacho Deleon Guerrero earning the honorable mention; Pathil was awarded the Art Award with Jazmyn Rae T. Jack earning the honorable mention; Francesca Marie Avengana Bucalig and Mathew R. Richardson were both awarded the Physical/Health Education Award; Borja was awarded the Speech Award with Ham earning the honorable mention; and Borja was awarded the Drama Award with Deleon Guerrero earning the honorable mention.
Due to social distancing measures and guidelines, both the baccalaureate Mass and commencement ceremony were limited to 50% capacity. While both events were limited to the graduates, immediate family members, and essential staff, to include as many family and community members, Mount Carmel School streamed the event live on its Facebook platform.
To ensure proper safety measures were followed prior to the event, Mount Carmel administrators worked with the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., and the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa to keep all participants safe.
This event marked the school’s 60th commencement ceremony since its opening in 1952. The graduates from the Class of 2020 were also given the official title of AlumKnights, joining the school’s legacy of AlumKnights who are leaders in business, government, and community.
When asked about Mount Carmel School’s other graduating students in the middle school and kindergarten levels, school principal Barbara Merfalen said that depending on the safety regulations nearing the start of the new school year, MCS may have a virtual or face-to-face ceremony for its other graduates in the lower levels. (PR)