St. John’s class of 2020 is celebrated as ‘Pioneer Strong’

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Headmaster Alex Zequeira and the Pioneer mascot celebrate with a graduate and his family.

Shrewsbury – A cloudy morning on May 17 greeted 206 graduates from Saint John’s High School’s class of 2020 on what would have been their graduation day. Like so many schools across the country, a traditional commencement for these graduates was not feasible in light of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Still, the mood was celebratory as over 200 vehicles lined up at Pioneer Field in preparation for a “Graduation Day Caravan” that traveled through the campus located at 378 Main St. All seniors were invited to participate and were limited to one car per family.

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“Pioneer Pride” was in full force as many of the assorted vehicles were festooned with red and white balloons (the school colors,) posters, streamers and banners with family and pets along for the ride.

With horns honking and music blaring, the cars filed through, single file and were met with applause, cheers and words of congratulations from over 70 staff and faculty from the school. Some brought their children and pets along to assist.

Warren Hayden, director of alumni relations and planned giving was on hand for the festivities. His was the last wave the families received at the end of the parade.

“I’m going to miss these boys. I know it wasn’t the way that they wanted to end their career here at Saint John’s but they were a wonderful class and we know they are going to go on and do great things,” he said.

“We wanted to send them off joyfully… this has been a great class,” agreed Alex Zequeira, headmaster. “They are a special class for me because we started at Saint John’s together in 2006. I taught a group of these kids so it’s a group of kids that I’m very close to.”

“You saw the turn out by our teachers and staff…It’s heartbreaking that they can’t graduate in the way that we’ve graduated classes for 124 years,” Zequeira added.

Seniors and their families have been invited to join together for a drive-in movie style celebration for the Class of 2020 to be held on June 14. A 40’ screen will be set up in the parking lot of Pioneer Field and families will be able to tune in using their car radios to enjoy a special class of 2020 tribute video.