COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Cristo Rey Columbus High School staff members found a unique way to celebrate the school’s seniors who missed out on their last few months of school due to COVID-19.
All 85 seniors were accepted to 156 different institutions around the country and have received a total of more than $9 million in scholarship money.
Many of these high school students are about to be first-generation college students.
Normally, students would celebrate with other classmates inside of the school’s gymnasium. But that can’t happen because all of the school buildings are closed due to COVID-19 and so faculty members helped the students find a way celebrate.
“It’s really an accomplishment they should be proud of,” said Jim Foley, school president at Cristo Rey. “We want to help them be proud of it today.”
Preparations began in the parking lot of Cristo Rey Columbus High School and a little rain wasn’t going to stop them.
“We want to celebrate them remotely since we can’t have them in the school,” said Foley. “So, we’re going to have a car caravan going around to every single students’ house.”
Foley and other teachers decorated their cars and drove to all 85 homes to congratulate all of the students on being accepted to college. None of the students knew it was going to happen.
“This is a surprise and I think it would be really good for them to lift their spirits,”said Foley.
First up was Erica McDowell who was accepted to Notre Dame, Bowling Green, Case Western, Loyola Chicago, Ohio Dominican, Penn State, Ohio State, Seton Hall, Wesleyan, and Xavier.
“I wasn’t expecting a congratulations like this. I wasn’t really expecting anything,” said McDowell. “I kind of thought I would go to college. I’m so excited to see my teachers. I really miss them. They’re awesome people.”
McDowell is excited because she’s going to the school she fell in love with, Notre Dame, which is the same school President Foley attended.
“When I found out I was going to his alma mater, I was shocked,” said McDowell.
Foley said McDowell is the first student to be accepted to Notre Dame.
“Notre Dame has given me so much financial aid to the point where I don’t have to pay for my first year and that’s so important to me because I have younger siblings who I want to go to college, and I don’t want to put that financial stress on my parents,” said McDowell. “So, that fact that I can go to this amazing school for free is just so exciting, and I’m so happy for my opportunities and I’m grateful for them.”
In this moment, McDowell said she is thankful for her teachers.
“I just want to say thank you,” she said. “It’s so big to me. I’m going to miss them so much and the fact that I can see them maybe one last time, it makes me so happy. I love them a lot. So, seeing them this one time to congratulate me it feels great.”