With the Coronavirus lockdown continuing, schools have not been able to give their Year 14 and Year 12 students the usual affirming and affectionate send-offs as the traditional examination season begins.
The annual Leavers’ Mass for Year 14 students, with parents and family members present, is a rite of passage which is always one of the high points of the year at Loreto College; a Mass is also always held for Year 12 students, some of whom may not return to take up sixth form studies in the new school year. The Loreto Senior Leadership Team and Religious Education department came up with the idea of a Mass celebrated in isolation and streamed live online to the students and their families, including some farewell speeches and tributes to wish the students well.
Following much hard work by Senior Teacher Mrs Siobhan McCarry and her colleagues in the RE Department, the idea became reality on Thursday 14th May. Loreto College collaborated with popular Facebook page Catholic Minute and Fr Raymond McCullagh was kind enough to agree to be the celebrant. The live broadcast took place on Thursday 14th May at 12 noon, streamed to an estimated 3500 people from the College Chapel. Members of the Senior Leadership Team and a member of the RE Department were present to contribute readings and prayers, and College Principal Mr Michael James concluded the Mass with a speech, centred around the Over The Rainbow theme chosen for the event, in which he paid tribute to everyone involved with the event and wished the students every success and happiness. Music was provided remotely by Head of Music Mr Brendan McCann and A Level Music students Cillian Calvert, Annie Levy, Erin McReynolds and Conal Simpson.
After the Mass, the College’s Friends of Loreto Facebook page remained buzzing with activity, as previously recorded messages from staff members and memorable, heartfelt speeches by Ms Catherine Marron, Head of Year 14 and Mrs Frances Pepin, Head of Year 12, went live. There were also thoughtful speeches by the 2020 Head Girl Ailbhe McGuckian and Head Boy, Aidan McFerran. To conclude the celebrations, a video created by the staff in affectionate tribute to the ‘fun and games’ usually enjoyed by the Loreto Leavers went live: Pass on the Rainbows. At last viewing, this video has had at least 7,600 views!
Mr Michael James, Loreto College Principal, paid tribute to everyone involved in organising the event: all members of the RE and Music Departments, the Year Heads and Heads of School, the Senior Leadership Team and most of all to Mrs Siobhan McCarry who planned and coordinated the event with imagination and attention to detail. Mr James also paid tribute to Fr Raymond McCullagh, and Sean Higgins of Catholic Minute, who made sure that everything ran perfectly in the College’s first ever live online event.
The Year 12 and Year 14 students of Loreto College may not have had the traditional leavers’ days they had been looking forward to, but they can certainly look back on a very special day – even if they had to enjoy it from home rather than in school.
The display to celebrate the Y12 and Y14 students in the College Chapel