By Jenelyn Russo     9/8/2020

Santa Margarita Catholic High School’s Class of 2020 graduated July 31, joining an alumni network of over 11,000 strong. The school reinvented commencement with the Class of 2020, becoming the first class to graduate on campus. In a ceremony like no other, members of the school’s 30th graduating class not only walked across the stage for the conferral of diplomas but then walked through campus while pausing at meaningful stops along the way with their family. Due to current COVID-19 health restrictions, the traditional commencement ceremony was transformed. 

The day kicked off with a live broadcast where graduates and guests could watch the prelude from the comfort of their home. Principal Wood, diocesan dignitaries and ASB President Claire Crafts made heartfelt opening remarks. Valedictorian Jordan Cheung and Salutatorian Brendan Reeves gave inspiring speeches and the Caritas Award and Courage Award were presented.  

“History will remember the Class of 2020 and the extraordinary circumstances in which we graduated. What they will remember most is our unyielding grit and perseverance through it all,” said Reeves. 

Selected by faculty and staff, The Caritas Award goes to a student that exemplifies all that is good about Santa Margarita and embodies the school’s charism of Caritas Christi, the love of Christ. “It does not recognize achievement in one specific area, but in all areas,” said Andy Sulick ’91 president. Elizabeth Bondy was recognized as this year’s distinguished recipient. Courtesy of a SMCHS graduate and former Caritas Award winner, the awardee receives $3,000 for college tuition and $2,000 to designate to the Catholic/Christian charity of their choice. 


This year’s Caritas Award Nominees were: 

Elizabeth Bondy 

Claire Crafts 

Tamara Hirschman 

Aidan Ocampo 

Meagan Rowlett 


Cole Engleman received The 2020 Courage Award. He has shown strength and resilience in overcoming significant challenges throughout his high school journey. A plaque that hangs in the library commemorates Engleman and other Courage Award recipients from years past. 

Outside the Sacred Heart Chapel, each graduate selected an inscribed rock with an inspirational message which they placed in a rock garden SMCHS has dedicated to the Class of 2020. The rock garden is now a permanent campus fixture at the base of the SMCHS Bell Tower, a reminder of this resilient class. Inside the Sacred Heart Chapel, graduates and their guests met with Father Tim, SMCHS chaplain, who offered a special blessing over each graduate and their guests. Next, each graduate watched a video of Claire Crafts as she led the traditional tassel turn ceremony. Graduates and their guests were then directed to walk to the main gate at the front of the campus.