DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Xavier graduation 2020 was like no other

It was a perfect dose of “reality TV,’’ with a tide of emotion whispering in and out on waves of pomp and circumstance.

Xavier College Preparatory’s 2020 graduation.

Held on Saturday (June 6) at nearby St. Francis Xavier Church 279 seniors quietly strolled down the main aisle of the church, wearing their blue caps and gowns with color-coordinated dark blue face masks.  The latter pieces of wardrobe for now remain a necessity to avoid the sinister spread of a lethal virus that has gripped the globe.

Graduates’ parents, families and friends watched a video feed at XCP’s Performing Arts Center and Founders Hall, with many more watching at home by way of a link to Youtube.

The graduates followed social distancing in the church, sitting about six feet apart in the pews.

They listened intently to a strong senior speech by Brianna Butkiewicz, who capsulized the school year, the lives turned upside down by the virus and, more recently, unrest and protest.

The take-away from that is God is watching over us and we need to be better people all the way around, treating each other with compassion, not just now but always.

The musicians and their music were eloquent. XCP Principal Sr. Joanie Nuckols teared up with pride while looking out over the sea of blue and announcing the girls’ names as they came forward to receive their diplomas. XCP President Sr. Joan Fitzgerald and XCP Vice President and Athletic Director Lynn Winsor facilitated that process. And Fr. Daniel Cruz, the school’s chaplain, paused to gather himself while delivering the benediction as he prepares to fulfill a new church assignment at Arizona State University.

A tip of the Xavier cap goes to the administrators, faculty and staff who treaded some new ground and had major roles in the organization and implementation of this event. Well done!

We need to pray for the well-being for these seniors as they move on to college, and pray for continued awareness and patience for what we need to do with a new school year just around the corner. We learned many lessons these last few months, with certainly more to come.

How these students handled themselves during these challenging times will serve as a lasting legacy as Xavier continues to thrive.

God bless !!

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