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Dowling Catholic Seniors Graduate at Principal Park From Social Distance

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Despite an employee at Principal Park testing positive for COVID-19, Dowling Catholic High School held its graduation ceremony at the ballpark Friday.

Dowling Catholic High School Principal Matt Meendering said when the school heard of the positive case they were worried about finding an alternative location.

“Everyone working tonight has tested negative, so we’re confident we can move forward and provide the best atmosphere with all the safety precautions in place,” Meendering said.

Graduating senior Jackson Miller said the ceremony was the perfect closure to this past school year.

“We’ve been waiting for a long time. It means a lot to my mom especially, so it will be nice to get to walk across the stage,” Miller said.

Jackson Miller’s grandmother, Mary Miller, said she was worried that she wasn’t going to be able to see her grandson walk across the stage.

“He’s been a very big part of my life for 18 years, so it’s so special,” Mary Miller said.

In total, 339 students graduated from the school. Each student received a mask upon arrival to the ceremony. Family members were encouraged to wear a mask as well.

Jim O’Halloran said his sons are second-generation graduates from Dowling Catholic.

“He is the fourth of four boys to graduate from Dowling Catholic, so it’s been pretty special,” O’Halloran said.

Each student had the opportunity to bring up to four family members to the ceremony. Students sat with their parents in the stadium socially distant from one another.

“We left for spring break anticipating we’d be back maybe one week, two weeks, and it never happened. This group of kids has never been together again, and if they have it all in one place in one time, it’s pretty important. We were going to do everything in our power to make it happen,” Meendering said.

This was the first time the school hosted its graduation ceremony at Principal Park. It is normally held at the Knapp Center at Drake University.

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