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Padua Franciscan High School surprises student who missed graduation

Jessica Callam missed the ceremony, so her school, brought the ceremony to her.

PARMA, Ohio — Jessica Callam, 18, wears her pride for Padua well. 

"According to my shirt, we're never alone. 'Always a Bruin,'" Jessica told us. "That really means to me that I'm never alone, and I wasn't alone."

That's because just a few days before her graduation from Padua Franciscan High School, she got sick with the flu.

"We thought we'd rally and we'd get her to go, and I called the school," her mother Mo said. "I said, 'How late can I get there?'"

They never made it.

"I was, like, very weak and very nauseous, and I didn't want to get anyone else sick," Jessica recalled. "So, I just kind of just stayed home."

But just days later, something wonderful happened.

"Well, my sister came over, who is a teacher at Padua, and we all thought she was gonna take a formal picture with Jessica," Mo said.

It wasn't a picture; it was the surprise of Jessica's life.

"I go out, and in, like, my front lawn, I see the president [of the school] and my principal and four of my awesome teachers out in my front yard," Jessica described.

She couldn't make graduation, so the school brought the ceremony to her.

"I was just absolutely heartwarmed and I was just in tears," Jessica said. "I was just really, really amazed to see everyone, because I never thought I was going to see them again after missing my graduation."

"We were all standing out there waiting, and so I got to see the visual as she came to the door and saw us for the first time, nd she just lit up with emotion," Padua Principal Bob DiRocco added. "It was really a beautiful moment.

It's a testament, Jessica says, to how Padua makes their students feel loved.

"This is just absolutely the most amazing thing that Padua has ever done, because that's what Padua is," she explained. "Padua is definitely a school [where] everyone says that we're a family, and we are a family."

When it come to character, Jessica is at the top of her class.

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