The students were traveling in Italy for intersession, an annual Donoho program in which 10th- through 12th-graders explore career options or the world around them.
About 20 students and three chaperones were in the Mediterranean nation as part of a trip which had been planned for a year.
On Wednesday night, the world watched St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City for any news on the selection of a new pope.
The confirmation came as white smoke poured out the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
An hour later, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina emerged to a roaring crowd as Pope Francis, the first Latin American pope in church history and first pope from outside Europe since the 8th century.
The Donoho students happened to be in Rome that night. When news broke that a pope had been selected, the students rushed off to the Vatican, according to an email from Donoho senior Alli Brascho, sent after the group landed in Atlanta on Friday.
“We literally dove off the tour bus” Brascho said.
The students filed in among the tens of thousands of spectators gathered at St. Peter’s Square to see Pope Francis emerge.
“We were blessed by the pope!” Brascho exclaimed in the email.
It was an event the Donoho students will not soon forget, Brascho said. When asked about the overall experience, Brascho had a one-word response: “Amazing!!”
Petrey is a Donoho senior who worked at The Anniston Star for his intersession experience.