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LYNN — It may not be the way any of them would have imagined it a short time ago, but the St. Mary’s Class of 2020 finally got to toss their graduation caps in the air and say goodbye to the school that they called home for four years.
St. Mary’s 139th commencement ceremony was held at St. Mary’s church where more than 100 Spartans, some in attendance dawning masks along with their cap and gowns and others watching live on social media, were honored in front of family, friends and faculty.
“Greetings to the class of 2020, it’s just so good to see you, it really is,” St. Mary’s Head of School Dr. John F. Dolan said to the crowd. “We are so pleased to be here to honor our graduates even if it is late July and it’s 99 degrees. Everything is different. On March 12 we dismissed our students for two weeks only to have it turn out the way it did today.”
Thankfully, after talks of a virtual commencement and other options, a live annual commencement was made possible. The Class of 2020 has already been through plenty but it’s also given them a chance to show their character.
“Your perseverance and trust in your faith has demonstrated to all of us that the Class of 2020 will continue to make us proud,” Dolan said. “You’ve made me proud, you’ve made your school community proud. I can only imagine the pride of your family to see you graduate today. To the Class of 2020, Godspeed. You have been tested and you have still moved forward.”
Valedictorian Erin Powers wasn’t able to attend the commencement, but Salutatorian Isabella Leo was on hand to give her address.
“Although the end of high school isn’t how we imagined it would be, we still have all the stories to reflect on of all those that were there for us,” Leo said. “In the last few months of school leading up to now we have faced constant uncertainty. Our teachers and administrators did everything they could to help us finish off our year successfully and safely.”
That was a common theme for Leo’s speech as she also thanked the family and friends of the class of 2020.
“It’s important to acknowledge everyone who has contributed to all of our successes during our time here,” Leo said. “We have our parents, who always push us to be the best that we can be. Whether it was academics, sports or clubs, they always encouraged us to do more and not settle for anything less. They helped us set our goals because they knew we could achieve them.
“And let’s not forget the tremendous support we’ve received from our fellow classmates,” she said. “Friendship is truly the glue that held us all together. No matter how stressed we were, at the end of the day, we have our friends to count on and share our lives with.”
Of course Thursday is just the end of one chapter for St. Mary’s Class of 2020 as they take their success from their days as a Spartan on into the rest of their lives.
“To my classmates I want you all to know that this is just the beginning. We all have a bigger task at hand,” Leo said. “St. Mary’s has given us the foundation for success that we need and now we must apply this knowledge in all that we will do. We are the leaders of the future. If we want to see a change in our society we have to start with ourselves. We must practice what we preach. As Gandhi said, ‘the future depends on what we do today.'”