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PEABODY — When coronavirus cut short their senior year and shelved traditional senior celebrations, Bishop Fenwick High School’s Class of 2020 kept smiling and stuck by each other.
“This has been a hard time for seniors but they have a relentless positivity,” said Fenwick President Thomas E. Nunan Jr.
The 134 seniors celebrated graduation on May 22 with a drive-in ceremony complete with customized Fenwick face masks to comply with coronavirus precautions.
Fenwick faculty turned out in force for the senior parade two weeks before graduation and made a double line of cars for the seniors to drive between and receive fun- and smile-filled social distancing salutes.
Nunan said the seniors’ willingness to embrace a graduation much different from the one they imagined underscores their flexibility and optimism when faced with a challenge.
Nunan is completing his first year at Fenwick and he said the Class of 2020 welcomed him to the school after he started at Fenwick last July. The seniors made his orientation to Fenwick “easier than it might have been.”
“They were a wonderfully welcoming group,” he said.
Before coronavirus shut down the school, seniors celebrated spirit week by painting superhero murals on the cafeteria wall and made the most of the Halloween dance — which Nunan described as “a huge event” on the Fenwick fall calendar.
The entire school led by the senior class turned out for the Super Bowl and when coronavirus restrictions went in force, seniors participated in a virtual online National Honor Society induction ceremony and embraced remote learning.
“Their behavior online has been great. They have been incredibly flexible and innovative,” said Nunan.
He was struck throughout March and April by the seniors’ interest in spending time with one another and checking up on classmates. He looked out his office window more than once and saw seniors’ cars backed into a circle with students talking while social distancing.
“They just wanted to connect,” Nunan said.
With college acceptance letters from schools as diverse as the students’ talents, Nunan said the senior class is well prepared for the challenges they will face in college.
He said the seniors’ proven ability to adapt and strength in the face of adversity during this academic year will help them adapt to school and life in a new location and college-level academic challenges.
“They demonstrated an inspiring perseverance,” Nunan said.
He said the Class of 2020 personified Fenwick’s motto — “Goodness and loyalty” with their concern for underclassmen and for one another.
“They were wonderfully loyal to the school and really good to each other,” he said.