By Mark Gregory
Editorial Director 

JCA faculty salutes seniors during COVID-19 lockdown

Students respond with emotional "thank you" video


Last updated 4/16/2020 at 10:53pm

When the word came down to students at Joliet Catholic Academy that Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker had closed all schools – public and private – because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was near the end of the day when seniors were either at the end of the day or had already left their lockers for what could be the very last time.

There were no good-byes, no hugs and no tears – just empty hallways where the Class of 2020 was supposed to be planning for prom, training for spring sports and cramming for finals – all in a lead up to graduation.

With all of that now in doubt as states across the nation have already announced school is done for the year, those seniors were left with unsaid farewells.

On April 1, several JCA teachers and administrators, led by Suzi Arnett and Holly Scordo, spent four days visiting all 152 of the Angel and Hilltopper seniors at their homes and placing a sigh in the yard in recognition of their pending promotion from JCA.

“We covered almost 400 miles,” Scordo said. “It was a labor of love and it was great to see the looks on the kids’ faces as well as the parents.”

“We wanted to visit our seniors that are pretty distraught like all seniors are. We have gotten a lot of text messages and emails from the seniors saying they can’t believe they are saying it, but they wish they were back in school,” Arnett added. “We kept our masks on and social distance and we went and put the signs in the front yard and told the kids we loved then and missed them and it was a nice thing for us and them.”

While the faculty wanted to do something to give back to the students, they found themselves in a position where they were able to say good-bye to the seniors as well.

“We had talked about dividing it up and having two or three teachers go to each home, but we all wanted to see each student, so it was really meaningful,” said Arnett.

The event took four days and as word spread, the seniors that were not visited on the first day knew what was coming, but that did not take away from the excitement.

“I was the fourth day and I was still super excited. Everyone that lives around me was excited when there were 15 cars and a bus that pulled up,” said Madi Mikuska, president of the JCA student council senior executive board. “We knew before that JCA was a family and now with this going on and all this happening, it shows it even more. We are all coming together.

“It was a hard pill to swallow at first that we may not have spring sports, prom or graduation, but this is such a unique experience that our kids will never even experience and we know JCA and we know they will do something for us even if it is next year when we are back from college.”

Mikuska said she knew she couldn’t let the faculty’s good deed go without a proper thank you, so she used the one thing everyone has plenty of during quarantine – technology and time.

“I was thinking we needed to find a way to thank the teachers and we can’t go parading to their houses, so I thought maybe we could get 50 kids to volunteer to do a video and after 30 minutes of me putting it on social media, we had over 100 volunteers,” she said. “We ended up with 114 people in the video out of 152 seniors.”

You can watch the video here


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