CLICK THE ARROWS to see six more photos from this event.
Five members of Helias Catholic High School’s graduating Class of 2020 are entering U.S. Military service.
Three of them will report for duty before the school’s delayed graduation ceremonies, which are scheduled to take place on June 19.
The school held a special ceremony in the Crusader Athletic Complex May 21 to honor five and present the three their diplomas. Family members as well as fellow seniors were invited to attend and observe proper social distancing.
Jacob Andrews is entering the U.S. Army; Drew Hoelscher and Ben Pierle are entering the U.S. Marine Corps; Curtis Rockers is entering the Missouri National Guard; and Matthew Roussin is entering the U.S. Air Force.
“Tonight was to be our original graduation date, but we modified for COVID-19 and wanted to honor these graduates who are not only serving our country, but who will also miss the postponed graduation ceremony,” said Kenya Fuemmeler, Helias principal. “We are so proud of their willingness to serve, their bravery and their love of country.”
“Good and gracious God, look down this evening upon our gathered community, as we come together to celebrate graduation for those young men who are entering the Armed Forces,” Father Stephen Jones, the school’s president, prayed. “Guide, strengthen, give hearts to serve and protect these young men in danger. Bless them with Your presence, let them always know of Your love, and may they always rely on You in times of challenge, in times of danger, in good times and in bad.”
Helias faculty member Mark Ordway, who has also served in the Missouri National Guard and was deployed to Iraq in 2004, was the featured speaker.
Mr. Ordway spoke about overcoming challenges, learning from mistakes and remaining strong and persistent through adversity.
“Nobody really likes to look at this this way, but when you signed your name on that enlistment sheet, you signed a blank check to give your life in defense of everything that is the United States, according to the Constitution,” he said. “That’s a challenge. A challenge not to be taken lightly.”
He urged them to embrace the challenges that will be put before them in training and throughout their time of military service.
“I thank you for your service,” he said. “I hope you live a long life. I hope you prosper. And at all times, turn to God when the challenge gets too great for you. As He has been there for me, may God go with you.”
The Central Missouri Blue Star Mothers recognized these five by presenting them a red, white and blue honor cord to wear with their gown and mortarboard.
“It symbolizes our sincerest gratitude for your intentions in serving our country,” said Ms. Fuemmeler. “We congratulate you on your graduation from Helias Catholic High School and commend you on making the brave choice to serve our country.”
Mr. Hoelscher, Mr. Pierle and Mr. Roussin then accepted their diplomas and threw their mortarboards into the air.
Faculty members stayed seated in chairs on the running track to greet the seniors from a safe distance.
The lights were turned on and the scoreboard set to 20:20 at 8:20 p.m. for fellow students and well-wishers to drive around the stadium.