We’ve all lost a lot these past few years as COVID restrictions caused the deferral of graduations, weddings and reunions. Marian junior Eileen Jacinto Lopez postponed her quinceañera twice. She was finally able to celebrate in December, when her mom and Marian classmates surprised her at school.

In 2020, Eileen turned 15 and was set to mark her quinceañera, a coming-of-age tradition that celebrates faith, family and community. A traditional quinceañera includes Mass, food, music and dancing with family and friends. Due to COVID, Eileen’s celebration was pushed to November 2021.

At the start of her junior year, Eileen and her classmates in Honors/AP Spanish V began studying quinceañeras as part of the AP practice exams. Having planned and rescheduled her quinceañera, Eileen was a good resource on the customs and traditions. With a rescheduled quince on the horizon, she and her two classmates began dreaming. They created a Pinterest page, and the girls weighed in on colors, decorations, dresses, hairstyles and shoes.

“There are three girls in Spanish V, and it’s a very close-knit group,” said Amanda Pritchard, Spanish teacher. “In October, we learned Eileen’s quinceañera was again canceled, due to a family situation. We were all so disappointed and knew we had to do something for her.”

A Surprise Quinceañera – at School

After a phone call to Eileen’s mother, a surprise was hatched – Eileen’s quinceañera would be at Marian. Eileen was told a “guest speaker” would be coming to discuss living and serving in the Dominican Republic.

The morning of Dec. 13, Eileen’s mom and siblings arrived two hours before Spanish class with her ball gown and decorations in tow. They transformed the PAC lobby with flowers, balloons and sweets. The mariachi arrived along with family and friends. All waited eagerly for Eileen and her classmates to appear.

Eileen was confused and surprised as she was rushed off to change out of her uniform and into her ballgown. It was finally time for the big reveal and Eileen emerged in her sparkling gown and tiara. Then she processed through a tunnel formed by her classmates and friends. As is tradition, she danced with her mom and brother to the mariachi, followed by a dance with her childhood friends. Eileen and her guests share horchata and cupcakes. The hour passed quickly, and then it was back to class for Eileen, in her ballgown. She was queen for the day.

Having her quince at Marian made Eileen feel loved and appreciated. “These past years have been really rough for me, and having everyone celebrate my special day made me feel so much better. It reminded me that I am loved and cared for,” Eileen said.

Spend a Day at Marian

See what it’s like to be a Marian girl and experience our supportive community! Sixth through eighth-grade girls are invited to spend the day shadowing a current student. To schedule a shadow visit at Marian, please contact Jennifer Christen | Assistant Principal | 402-571-2618 x 1108 | christen@omahamarian.org.

Our doors are always open – virtually. Take a virtual tour at any time at https://marianhighschool.net/virtual-tour.