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Class of 2020 reclaims what the pandemic took away

On July  30, Loyola hosted the first ever one year reunion in order to honor the Class of 2020. Because the pandemic robbed this graduating class of a traditional ceremony, Loyola prepared this special celebration to commemorate this historic class and their families.

       The ceremony began with the members of the Class of 2020 processing down the new Grad at Grad walkway in the freshly reimagined Hayden Circle. The walkway represents the core values of Loyola’s mission—that graduates are open to growth, intellectually distinguished, religious, loving, committed to justice and developing as leaders.

     Campus Minister Christian Astran commented, “Those guys got the chance to walk down the Grad at Grad walkway, which they didn’t get a chance to do at virtual graduation. It gave them the ceremonial closure that marks the transition from high school to college. They are finished with their journey here as Cubs and carry forth the Grad at Grad values that are so central to the mission of Loyola.”

     The outdoor ceremony continued with a prayer from former faculty member Karen Jardine, followed by the national anthem. The attendees were thrilled to hear from the ceremony emcee and the Class of 2020’s Dean of Men Dan Annarelli, whose sentimental speech welcomed the class back to Loyola with a few memories and acknowledgments.

     “It was a special night,” said Jerry Jackson ’20, who now studies business at the University of Notre Dame. “Although our class missed out on a true graduation event at the end of our senior year, it was great to gather with former classmates as alumni and hear our names called during the event.”

     The event progressed with remarks by Principal Frank Kozakowski and an official welcome by Alumni Association representatives Steve Arrellano ’79 and Patrick Girardi ’99.  Then, each member of the Class of 2020 was called up by name to be officially inducted into the Alumni Association and take a photo with Kozakowski and Loyola President Fr. Gregory Goethals, SJ ’73. 

     Director of Campus Ministry Matthew Schaeffer said, “It was a moving experience. I got a little teary-eyed, which I did not anticipate. These guys got the graduation they didn’t get to have in 2020.”

     The ceremony concluded with a blessing of the graduates and their parents, which was followed by a historic time capsule activity, the first of its kind.

     Director of Events Karin Chamberlain said, “The historic time capsule was sealed after their first reunion on July 30, 2021, and will be opened at their 50th reunion in 2070. It will be housed in the Loyola archives.”

         After the ceremony, there was a reunion reception outside in Malloy Commons catered by alumnus Sean Murphy ’84 with appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages. In addition, a few buildings and classrooms were open for students and families to explore and relive memories. 

  Will Sturgeon ’20, Computer Science and Neuroscience Major at University of Pennsylvania, stated, “I was looking forward to catching up with everyone I’d missed, and it definitely delivered.” 

    The class also toured the newly-opened Caruso Hall, as construction had not been completed at the time of their original graduation day.

    Fr. Goethals commented, “I loved shaking everyone’s hand, seeing everyone, and connecting with everyone. I loved seeing everyone, students and parents, happy together on campus.”

        The event was very well attended by the Class of 2020 and families. The chaos of summer did not stop this class from having the opportunity to reunite with their Cub brothers, former teachers, and Loyola’s campus.

     Chamberlain explained, “We had an excellent turnout for this event. With pre-planned summer vacations and early returns to college due to athletics, we were thrilled that almost 80 percent of the Class of 2020 and their parents returned for this special event.”

   Not only was this graduating class historic for being the first and only class to graduate virtually, but this event itself was also historic, as it was the first one-year reunion in Loyola’s history.

     Chamberlain said, “It was incredibly important for Loyola to host this event for this class. These young men walked off Loyola’s campus on Mar. 13, 2020, with the expectation to return. They did not have that chance. This was an opportunity to reconnect in person with their classmates, teachers and friends to give closure to their time at Loyola High School. It celebrated their resilience and the strength of the bonds they have formed here.”


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