‘Spartan’ effort to award diplomas to St. Mary’s grads

LYNN — The administration at St. Mary’s kept its ambitious diploma drop a secret until the last minute.

Head of School Dr. John Dolan, along with a staff that included principal David Angeramo, athletic director Jeff Newhall, principal emeritus James Ridley, and external affairs director Jamie Gigliotti, worked feverishly for two weeks to put together individual graduation boxes for the 115 graduates who were supposed to have their ceremony Wednesday night. And for a four-hour period that centered around noontime Wednesday, the five administrators fanned out to the 112 homes to deliver diplomas and boxes to seniors (three of them were already back in China).

They didn’t let anyone know what they were doing until Monday night, when they emailed and called every parent to make sure they would all be home.

“We have a great team,” said Gigliotti. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the team.”

The box contained fitted caps, gowns and T shirts, yearbooks, included all pertinent and relevant regalia such as valedictorian and salutatorian sashes, and academic and athletic honors.

“The work that goes into making sure the right material went into the right boxes was amazing,” said Dolan. “The military could learn a few things from the way Jamie organized this thing. It took us all of last weekend and some late nights to get everything lined up perfectly.”

Dolan and his staff knew right away the idea was a good one.

“I think the third drop we knew we’d done something special,” he said. “Right before that, the mother could not stop crying.”

“It’s a tragic time,” said Sandy Donovan, whose daughter, Kate, is one of the graduates. “And my heart goes out to all the victims of this (referring to the COVID-19 virus and its aftermath), especially families who lost loved ones.

“But,” she said, “in a way, it’s a lesson these kids can learn that not everything goes the way you thought it would. Life doesn’t always go as you planned it. It’s just unfortunate the kids had to learn this at such a pivotal time in their lives.”

Her daughter feels the pain of losing senior moments, but she was very happy when Newhall came to her door to present her diploma.

“I think it was nice,” said Kate Donovan, who will attend Emmanuel this fall. “Mr. Newhall handed us the box and congratulated us for graduating. We all appreciated that they were thinking of us and that they sent us off the way they did.”

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