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Holy Cross graduates get red carpet treatment

Eighth grader Dianne Haake walks down the red carpet at Holy Cross School in Overland Park to receive her diploma on May 18. LEAVEN PHOTO BY LORI WOOD HABIGER

by Moira Cullings

OVERLAND PARK — Holy Cross School teachers and staff here rolled out the red carpet — literally — on May 18 for their graduating eighth-graders.

But the ceremony took a bit longer than usual. In fact, students could schedule their commencement any time between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

“We realize during these unprecedented times that our families needed to know that we are not forgetting the 30-plus-year traditions that we have at our school and the sacrifices that many families make to send their children to a Catholic school,” said eighth grade teacher Paula Patterson.

The staff at Holy Cross made sure its eighth grade class felt special — even if the students weren’t able to have a typical graduation ceremony. LEAVEN PHOTO BY LORI WOOD HABIGER

“The majority of our 21 eighth graders have been with us since kindergarten.

“We have watched them grow from wide-eyed kindergartners to confident young men and women ready to move onward to the next four years of high school,” she added.

And they wanted to bid them farewell.

To honor the students’ years of hard work, the graduates were invited to don a cap and gown and walk the red carpet, receive their diplomas and pose for a photo.

Families and friends of Holy Cross’s eighth graders cheered across the street as the students walked the red carpet. LEAVEN PHOTO BY LORI WOOD HABIGER

The students signed up for time slots throughout the day to ensure social distancing but could then invite their family and friends to cheer them on from across the street.

Patterson hopes the students’ memories of the unique ceremony will ease the pain of not being able to enjoy the last couple months of school as a class.

“What [has been] hardest for them,” she said, “is not being all together one last time inside their school building.

“With the love and support of their parents, they understand that students across the world are missing out on graduations and other big life events.”

Dianne Haake receives her diploma. LEAVEN PHOTO BY LORI WOOD HABIGER

So both they and their parents, noted Patterson, have said they are grateful for this opportunity.

Fortunately, it promised to be a memorable one.

“The students have said that they will remember this day,” added Patterson, “and what the Holy Cross staff and teachers did for them.”

Along with the entire Holy Cross staff, Patterson wants the graduates to have a sense of accomplishment and pride in all they achieved throughout their time at the school.

“Most importantly, I hope they know that they have left their footprints upon our hearts and will always be in our prayers,” she said.

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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