Senior Surprised with Diploma after Getting Flu Commencement Day

May 30th, 2023 | News

Photo courtesy: Maureen Callam

Padua Franciscan High School senior Jessica Callam ’23 got a special graduation-for-one after coming down with the flu on commencement day. A few days after missing the Class of 2023’s ceremony, several of her teachers, including Mrs. Bridgette Kreutzer, Mrs. Erin (Higgins) Kalkbrenner ’02, Mrs. Carolyn (Bolmeyer) Kuchta ’04, Mrs. Joan Giulivo, Mr. Tim Giulivo, along with Principal Bob DiRocco and President Dave Stec ’86, surprised her at home in Gates Mills by hand-delivering her diploma.

It was Jessica’s concern for her classmates that kept her home. “I was feeling really sick. As much as I wanted to be there, I knew I was supposed to sit really close to my classmates and I didn’t want to get anyone else sick,” she said. “I honestly thought they would just mail me my diploma.”

The teachers called Jessica’s mom to pull off the surprise. Jessica put on her cap and gown to take a few pictures with family outside – or so she thought. When she walked out the front door, seven faculty members were in her driveway wearing their graduation robes.

Graduation is such an important milestone for students and their families who have worked so hard over the years. “It was a real blessing to be able to present Jessica her diploma in person and to recreate the graduation moment for her and her family,” said Stec. “At Padua, one of our strongest values is that of family. It is not just something we say, but rather something that we practice. I truly believe that this gesture brought the love and care that we have for our students fully alive.”

Jessica’s mother said the level of care and kindness expressed by the school meant so much to her daughter, now able to close the chapter on high school thanks to the cherished memory. “We’re just so grateful,” said Maureen Callam. “It’s such a wonderful school with a wonderful presence and they really care about every single kid and want to make sure that every kid matters.”

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