Devan Fischbeck (COURTESY)

Top grad reflects on high school days in quarantine

PALM BEACH GARDENS | In recent weeks, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram news feeds of John Carroll High School, Cardinal Newman High School and St. John Paul II Academy have been flooded with photos and videos showcasing graduating seniors in profile features, graduate parades, “honk for senior” signs, athlete highlights and video messages from teachers and lower classman. These thoughtful and heartfelt deeds — although unable to take the place of walking across the stage towards a diploma — are cherished by graduates throughout the diocese.  

The Diocese of Palm Beach would like to honor the senior class of 2020 through a short series of class profiles. The Florida Catholic asked each valedictorian to answer reflection questions on behalf of their class. In this issue, we honor John Carroll High School class of 2020. Here’s what Devan Fischbeck, valedictorian, had to say about graduating during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

          How have you stayed in touch with your classmates during the quarantine?

A: Over the quarantine, my classmates and I have been staying in touch through Zoom calls. At least once a week my friends and I all eat lunch together through Zoom.   

Q.: Did you celebrate prom or graduation in any special way while practicing social distancing? 

A: On prom day, my classmates and I got dressed up and took individual pictures in our prom outfits. Some students created a prom TikTok video, which received 76,000 views. 

On graduation day this year, the school has planned a senior car procession around the track at John Carroll. I am really looking forward to being at the school for the last time as a John Carroll student wearing my cap and gown.  

Q. How have you maintained your spirituality with your classmates during this time? 

A: Every morning, as part of the Alpha Peer Ministry Team, I start my day off by reflecting on the daily Gospel. We also have weekly Alpha meetings every Friday where we catch up and pray together as a class. 

Q. Looking back, what would you say is the biggest accomplishment or important moment for your senior class this year? 

A: The most important moment for our class this year was definitely our senior class retreat. Our retreat took place right before spring break, without us knowing we would not be returning to school for the rest of the year. At the retreat, our entire class came together and enjoyed the day strengthening our faith and relationships with each other. I am so thankful that we had this opportunity because I truly believe that this is what allowed us, as a class, to stay together even during quarantine.  

Q. What is the most important thing you’ve learned from this time away from your school? Was there anything positive that came out of this difficult time? 

A: The most important thing I have learned from this time away from school is to cherish every moment you have with those you love. This was obviously not the way we expected our senior year to end, but I am so thankful for all of the precious time my classmates and I were able to spend together.  

Q. Do you have any words of wisdom for the next class of seniors? 

A: I want to encourage the next class of seniors to go out and be involved in absolutely everything you can at your school. Your senior year will be the most fun you have ever had and do not waste a second of it. Cherish and strengthen every relationship you have and always stay connected to your faith. 

Q. If you could use a quote from a religious figure as a motto, what would that be for the class of 2020? 

A: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

 – Padre Pio