Marist High School’s class of 2020 marks the 54th graduating class for the South Side Catholic school that serves young men and women by preparing them for higher education and life. Despite the unexpected end to the 2020-21 school year, the class continued the school’s tradition of excellence. Commencement exercises were held virtually May 24, 2020.
The talented class boasted co-valedictorians Connor McNamara and Zachary Stack and co-salutatorians Jack Molenhouse and Nicole Viz. McNamara and Viz will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, while Stack will attend Harvard University and Molenhouse will attend Texas A&M University. The four were National Merit Finalists along with classmate Daniel Winstead. Additionally, Brianna Brown, Adam Hermann, Kyle Kohn, and Kenneth Polit were named National Merit Commended Students. Molenhouse and Kohn both scored 36, the top score on the ACT—a rare feat.
Marist boasted 64 Illinois State Scholars, recognizing the top ten percent of seniors in the state. Numerous students were named ACT scholars, Advanced Placement Scholars, and received prestigious awards and scholarships. Quinn Kelly and Ivan Diaz were awarded the esteemed Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship, while Gervhona Lemon earned the Posse Foundation Scholarship.
Members of the class sent out 2,655 applications and were accepted at 375 colleges and universities. They will matriculate on campuses across the country this fall. The group was awarded more than $45 million in scholarship monies. Three members of the class will join the military. Dominic Bruinius and Ellie Andersen will join the U.S. Navy, while William Curtin will join the U.S. Marines.
Grace Maxwell and Caleb Davis were selected as the Faculty Award recipients. Voted on by the faculty each year, the award recognizes academic excellence, leadership, and dedication to Marist.
At the heart of their Marist experience was spiritual growth. Members of the class participated in retreats and liturgy planning. Students planned and executed countless service projects and fundraisers, including spearheading the Relay for Life which raised $45,000 for the American Cancer Society in 2020 alone, and running countless service projects and drives for those in need. More than 200 members of the class were enrolled in one of the school’s two unique religion courses. Students in the senior service program provided daily community service at more than 18 area organizations, including OSF Little Company of Mary Hospital, Elim Christian Services, and several nearby Catholic grammar schools. The peer leadership program allows seniors to provide academic support to students in classes, assisting teachers to ensure student success.
Athletically, individuals and teams were strong performers. Senior members of the girls' volleyball team were part of back-to-back state championships in 2017 and 2018 and placed third in state in 2019. The boys’ volleyball team captured the state title in 2019. The cheerleading program brought home three state trophies in the past three years, finishing as the state runner-up in 2018 and 2019 and in third place in 2020. This year’s seniors contributed to softball’s fourth place state finish in 2017 and 2019. Football advanced to the state semifinal for the second straight year. Rugby brought home a fourth place state trophy in 2019. Poms made an impressive appearance at state. Wrestling, boys’ track, girls’ tennis, girls’ track, girls’ cross country, and boys’ cross country advanced individuals to state. Teams made deep runs into the playoffs and racked up regional, conference, and sectional titles. Forty-eight members of the class committed to college athletic programs.
After the bell rang each day, these seniors participated in clubs and activities, sharing their leadership and expertise with the school community. The speech team advanced to the National Catholic Forensic League Grand Tournament, though it was unable to be held. Members of the school newspaper garnered dozens of awards in several categories. Student Council members planned a variety of events and activities throughout the year. The broadcasting program grew with bi-weekly news segments and a talk show. Students found their niche, making clubs from fencing to Ultimate Frisbee and cooking to mock trial a meaningful part of their experience. Academic Team won the regional and conference, while chess competed at state. Marist seniors were leaders on the math team, winning the regional and qualifying once again for the state tournament, though it was unable to be held.
The fine arts flourished, as seniors produced art, music, and theater that captivated their audiences. As always, the famed Marist marching band provided the soundtrack for four great years of high school. The band performed at home and made three spring tours in the United States. The theater guild produced a fall drama and spring musical to the delight of audiences, while students shared their creativity through photography, ceramics, digital design, drawing, and more.
Marist seniors embraced technology, too, undertaking engineering, coding, robotics, architecture, and other endeavors. Additionally, seniors took advantage of the Beeson Science Center and Our Lady Queen of the Heavens Planetarium through innovative and hands-on courses in forensics, astronomy, anatomy, and traditional science branches.
Many students took advantage of the school's Explore Program, attending talks from industry leaders, visiting college campuses, shadowing at workplaces, and participating in internships.
Marist proudly sends off the class of 2020 to make Jesus known and loved in the world, while making a difference in every industry and community.