Cornelia Connelly School’s Final Graduation Ceremony

June 10, 2020

Anaheim, CA – On Saturday, June 6, 2020, Cornelia Connelly School held its 56th, and final, commencement ceremony. After nearly 60 years of educating young women, the Class of 2020 had the honor of being the final class to walk across Sullivan-Henry Athletic Field to receive their awards and diplomas. The beloved school closed its doors permanently after seeing the final graduates receive their diplomas on a perfect Saturday afternoon in June.

Radiant, socially-distanced graduates beamed during a beautiful graduation ceremony.

While most high schools across the Unites States, if not around the world, were unable to celebrate the milestone of a high school graduation due to the worldwide pandemic caused by COVID-19, Cornelia Connelly School was able to give her students a graduation, and much more, due to its small size and ability to host events while still practicing social distancing. After spending months apart from their classmates when the transition to distance learning commenced on March 18, Connelly students were overjoyed to receive the news that they were being given the gift of a Senior Prayer Breakfast, Baccalaureate Mass with the Most Reverend Thanh Thai Nguyen presiding, and most importantly, the beautiful Holy Child Graduation Ceremony they had been looking forward to since day one at Connelly.

In keeping with the nationwide Holy Child Network of Schools’ tradition, Connelly graduates wore beautiful floor-length white gowns, white gloves, and each carried a bouquet of elegant roses during the outdoor ceremony that took place on Connelly’s Sullivan-Henry Field. For a second year in a row, Connelly graduates were honored to have The Most Reverend Kevin Vann, JCD, DD, Bishop of Orange, award the students their diplomas. Connelly and Bishop Vann have enjoyed a special relatioship over the years with Bishop Vann attending many of Connelly’s events throughout the school year. A special dinner was held afterwards on campus for the graduates and their families who wished to stay. The atmosphere was upbeat and celebratory as laughter once again filled the campus that had been devoid of students since March.

At this year’s commencement exercise, Connelly broke from the tradition of having one alumna speaker, to inviting five Connelly alumnae – one from each decade in which Connelly has stood, including one from the first graduating class of 1965. Connelly’s current ASB President, Noelle Mourani, and Senior Class President, Daisy Ibarra, represented the current decade as speakers. Each Connelly “girl” brought a unique perspective of her cherished years at Connelly, yet one common thread that ran through each of their speeches was the strong bond of sisterhood that lasts a lifetime.

Jubilant Cornelia Connelly School graduates celebrated by throwing rose petals in the air.

Founded in 1961 by the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus, Cornelia Connelly School has, throughout the years, offered its students a unique opportunity to study at other Holy Child School Schools in the United States. The Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus also founded and sponsor schools in England, Ireland and Africa. This year, before the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, CCS students participated in the Holy Child Exchange Program studying abroad in Ireland, England, and Ghana.

The small, but accomplished, class of 2020 was awarded $5,119,898 in talent and merit-based scholarships. Every one of the 39 graduates from the class of 2020 will be heading to a college or university in the fall. Connelly graduates were accepted by such notable universities as the United States Air Force Academy, USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Boston University, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, to name a few, taking the school motto of “lead, serve and inspire” to heart!

ASB President, Noelle Mourani, who was granted an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy, summed up the sentiment of her class well. “As the last Connelly alumnae, it is our responsibility to keep what we’ve learned and apply it. It is our responsibility to feel a sense of urgency to make a difference in our future communities, big or small.” With regard to the Connelly campus, Mourani said, “The memories made, lessons learned, and accomplishments achieved will always be ingrained in who we are, regardless if there’s a building here to show it or not.”

Cornelia Connelly School in Anaheim was a Catholic, independent, college-preparatory high school for young women that was founded and sponsored by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in 1961. Due to years of diminishing enrollment, increased debt, and shortfalls in fundraising efforts, the school was closed after the final Graduation ceremony on June 6, 2020. Connelly’s exceptional curriculum and programs prepared young women to be leaders based on an underlying philosophy of trust, reverence, and respect. Connelly is proud to have educated generations of confident, articulate leaders through the years.

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