Celebrating Graduation with Tradition

June 5, 2019

During graduation, traditions run deep.

Graduation in a Catholic high school offers opportunity to celebrate time-honored traditions that help make the four-year experience unique and unforgettable.

Holy Names Academy says goodbye to its seniors with a tradition that dates back to a time when all the Catholic high schools in the Seattle area graduated together.

“We have a student assembly that the graduating seniors put on to showcase their passions and talents,” said Liz Swift, principal and head of school at Holy Names. Swift has held the position for 24 years.

“Then we have a receiving line,” Swift said. “All the younger students get to bid the seniors farewell.” It’s a heartfelt send-off from the school that has helped prepare these seniors for the next step in their lives.

Graduation week includes a special Mass and reception at Holy Names for the seniors and their parents, Baccalaureate Mass at St. James Cathedral, and the senior prom— where seniors return to school before the dance to introduce their dates to a receiving line of faculty and staff.

“We want our seniors to be confident, compassionate, and courageous,” Swift said. “To be able to pursue their dreams, their talents and interests, and have a sense of giving back.”

Mike Prato, president at Kennedy Catholic High School, said his school started a new tradition for the seniors this year—an award to honor a student who emulates the Beatitudes in daily life.

The award highlights the guiding principles of the school patron, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. “This graduate is someone who is humble, virtuous, and authentic; who is a seeker of justice, shows mercy, is pure at heart, and a peacemaker within the Kennedy Catholic community and beyond,” Prato said.

Graduation week includes a moving up assembly, where the teachers form two lines facing each other and create a “gauntlet.” Each senior walks through while their classmates cheer. It’s the same way they entered the school as freshmen.

At the Baccalaureate Mass, each senior carries an item that represents their four years at Kennedy Catholic and places them on a table during the service.

“These are important, meaningful traditions,” says Prato. “Our hope is that the seniors head into the world and remember to do so with intention, purpose, and integrity.”