Paul VI High seniors Ava Burkat and Colby Davoren pose before their graduation parade.
Photo by Bonnie Hobbs.
Thanks to COVID-19, this year’s high-school seniors didn’t get to have their achievements and graduation recognized in a public way. So moms Liz MacDonald and Amy McConaghie of Centreville’s Gate Post Estates community organized a parade in their honor.
Thirteen grads – 11 from Westfield High and two from Paul VI High – live in that neighborhood. And on Friday evening, May 29, they donned their caps and gowns, got into decorated vehicles and were driven by their parents through the community while the residents cheered.
“Their senior year ended abruptly, and they missed out on so much – senior prom, sports and student-government banquets, barbecues and awards ceremonies,” explained MacDonald. “We’re just trying to make lemonade out of the lemons being thrown at them.”
“While FCPS will eventually hold a virtual graduation, that’s not the real deal,” she continued. “And talk of a possible, full graduation ceremony in the fall is a moot point, as these kids are slated to be off to college. So we took matters into our own hands. We’ve never had a parade in our neighborhood, so we put flyers on everybody’s mailboxes to let them know about it.”
Signs with each student’s photo were posted along the parade route, which the vehicles traveled three times. Also participating were a fire engine and a police cruiser.
When school suddenly came to a close, PVI senior Colby Davoren was saddest about missing senior prom. “It was going to be on my birthday, May 1, so it was a double whammy,” he said. Following in his dad’s footsteps, he’s now heading to South Carolina’s Clemson University to major in computer science and eventually become a master programmer. Davoren was happy about the parade because, he said, “We get a second chance to have a real graduation, as opposed to virtual.”
Classmate Ava Burkat also felt bad about missing out on prom and “not being able to see everybody all together for the last time.” This was Paul VI’s final year in Fairfax before moving to Loudoun County in the fall, so Burkat regrets “not spending those last few months at the old building.”
She’ll be attending The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to pursue a degree in early childhood education, in hopes of becoming a teacher. Regarding the parade, she said, “It’s great; it feels special. Even though the last few months were kind of unpredictable, this was something I could count on.”