Early on Tuesday, May 18, I received an email from senior Lane Laurent, Lead Walker on last Sunday's Senior Pilgrimage, and a key member of our Student Government, which hosted Saturday's gorgeous, colorful Prom. Writing on behalf of her co-Lead Walker Reet Chatterjee and her classmates, to Dr. Exley, Mr. Clarke, and the JHS administration, Lane's subject line was one word: "Finally." Here is the text of Lane's email:
Thank you for letting us wait and for letting us play the Pilgrimage out in a way we knew was going to be truest to our class. I think we all really needed this weekend, and we wouldn't have wanted it any other way. So thank you for helping us and listening to us.
Last weekend offered a double dose of joy, faith, and community, especially for this year's seniors. When we welcomed the seniors back to campus in early February, we thanked them for their resilience and deep sacrifice in giving up so many high school rites of passage in order to protect the health of the most vulnerable members of our community during the past year's pandemic. Our students were given a crash-course not only in how to become "remote students," but what it really means to be people for others over the long months of quarantine.
So, when last weekend finally offered our students the chance to sing, dance, and celebrate the power of their community, they let loose with joyful abandon, singing everything from Katy Perry's "Firework" (Prom) to John Becker's "Lead Me, Lord" (Pilgrimage) at the top of their lungs.
Saturday's Prom was a spectacular explosion of colorful dresses, sunshine, saxophones and unfettered teenage joy. The almost 500 students in attendance were greeted by a campus transformed by Student Government into an enchanted forest of fun and Italian sodas and rock 'n roll. They celebrated like they were emerging from a global pandemic into the promise of a summer of freedom. Which, God willing, they are...
Then came Sunday, and the Final Mile of the Senior Pilgrimage, a day that Lane, Reet, and the Pilgrimage team thought might never come. But they kept hope alive and advocated that we really go to St. Francis Xavier Church in Toledo, WA, to which 24 years of seniors had walked before them. No "Virtual Pilgrimage" for these seniors!
At the Pilgrimage Mass on Sunday, seniors had the chance to reflect on their most unusual journey through Jesuit High. Speaker after speaker expressed gratitude to their classmates and to Jesuit itself, for sticking together and living out that old Journey song, "Don't Stop Believing." Emma Klausenburger quoted Owen Mackin, reminding the Class of 2021 that "the secret sauce at Jesuit is community."
The main ingredients to that special sauce: Start with a foundation of thick faith and deep love, add a dollop of hope, fold in some music and sunshine, and serve to the world.
Thanks, Class of 2021, for never stopping believing, for sticking together, and for reminding us what community really looks, feels, sounds and smells like: Teen Spirit. Finally.
Paul J. Hogan