Ascension Catholic High School celebrated the 2020 graduating class with virtual baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies.

The Donaldsonville-based school released the videos last week via YouTube.

Ascension Catholic Principal Sandy Pizzolato opened the baccalaureate ceremony saying, “It is with a heavy heart that we must gather in this way to celebrate the Class of 2020.”

Garrison Landry led the opening prayer, while Ashlyn Leonard led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Fr. Matthew Dupre then addressed the class, encouraging them to never forget their alma mater, which has been educating students for 175 years.

He said the class has accepted many challenges and persevered. 

“Continue to be reminded that success is always measured by how each of you will give selflessly to other people,” Dupre said. “We see it being demonstrated today, in our own community, nation, and the world. People courageously, and without much thought, give to others.”

He also reminded the graduates to keep in mind the sacrifices and support their parents and families have made over the years. He went on to say it would be easy to fall into pessimism and hopelessness during trying times. 

“The future is not all dark. It is not all depressing. For you graduates, you have to be able to discern the good happening in your own life. There is a lot of good happening. If we allow ourselves to be fed through social media and the news all of this negativity, of course we will take on the attitude that there is not much hope in the world. I want you to know there is hope,” he said.

Dupre asked the graduates to never allow themselves to fall into despair.

“There’s always a reason to have hope,” he said.

The presentation of awards followed. Notably, a total of 19 of the 30 graduates have participated in dual enrollment college courses. About 60 percent of the class anticipates TOPS scholarships. 

Dupre also addressed the class during the graduation ceremony.

“May they find comfort from our community’s continued embrace and support as they journey through life,” Dupre said.

Salutatorian Sam Mire opened the speeches, where he said his class has been “like family.” He said adversity has brought the class closer together.

Valedictorian Brock Acosta followed with his speech, thanking the faculty and coaches for shaping their lives.

“It is now time for us to move on. This is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives, and I’m excited to see where it takes all of us.” Acosta said.

Valedictorian Payton Hatcher said senior year was supposed to be different, but the coronavirus closure led the class down another path.

“It was the best days of our lives, but it ended unexpectedly and too soon,” Hatcher said.

Most of the class has been together for 13 years. As an only child, Hatcher said she thinks of her classmates as brothers and sisters.

Valedictorian Katie Pizzolato said March 13 felt like any other day. Ultimately, it would be their last day together at school.

“Being able to overcome something like this, at one of the most vulnerable times of our lives, has prepared us for any challenges we may face in the future,” Pizzolato said. 

Ashlyn and Alexia Leonard sang “Oceans” by Lauren Daigle and “Go Light Your World” by Chris Rice during the ceremony.

A montage of photos and video showed each graduate receiving their diploma at their homes, turning over their tassels, and tossing their caps.