NRHS bids farewell to the Class of 2020

Jul 30, 2020 by

Published July 30, 2020

EACH GRADUATE’S family shared a pre-assigned seating arrangement and entered and exited the ceremony together. Class marshal Joe Hoadley shared his with his mom, Leigh (at right), his dad and stepmom, John and Jamie, brother Max and sister Katherine. (Maureen Doherty Photo)

By MAUREEN DOHERTY

NORTH READING — The trifecta is complete! The long-awaited Commencement Exercises to usher nearly 200 members of the Class of 2020 into the world as graduates of North Reading High School was held without a hitch Friday night at the Arthur J. Kenney Athletic Field.

The July 24 ceremony, attended by about 500 immediate family members of the students in an otherwise empty stadium, brought the entire class together one last time after their senior year was abruptly and permanently interrupted back on March 12 due to the novel coronavirus 2019 pandemic.

It was the sincere wish of all the members of this class to hold a real ceremony rather than a virtual one, as many other communities had done, and a small army of student leaders, administrators, teachers, parents and town officials made it a reality for them.

The entire football field was utilized to provide a maximum amount of physical distancing between each family pod. The seating areas had been assigned in advance and were arranged to face the empty bleachers, beneath which the guest speakers would step to a podium that was set up on the track.

Pomp and Circumstance was piped in over the public address system, in lieu of the High School Concert Band, followed by the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which, under ordinary circumstances, would have been performed by the NRHS chorus.

Speeches of all guest speakers are reprinted in their entirety inside today’s Transcript. Principal Anthony J. Loprete provided the welcome and opening remarks followed by the charge to the graduates by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patrick C. Daly.

Honor essays were delivered by the top three students of the Class of 2020, Hae-Jung Kim, Samantha Galvin and Mary Regan, the class valedictorian.

The winner of this year’s class essay writing contest, Elizabeth Barrett, then delivered her speech.

OVER 700 people attended Friday night’s unique graduation ceremony, which was limited to nearly 200 graduates and their immediate family members. Among them was graduate Zach Shaw, who celebrated with his parents, Linda and John, and brother Andrew. (Maureen Doherty Photo)

Each graduate was invited to come forward to be recognized individually. Their names were announced alternately by Loprete and Assistant Principal Joseph Hehn, along with any special accolades or scholarships earned, and their official graduate portrait was snapped.

A congratulatory message was offered by School Committee Chairperson Scott Buckley. The final speech was delivered by the Senior Class Officers, President Emily Kuperstein, Vice President Lauren Keough, Secretary Emily Davis and Treasurer Julia DiNapoli. It was penned by Kuperstein. They announced the class gift to the school of a donation toward a new electric sign and led their classmates in moving their tassels from right to left, signifying their graduation, followed by a call to toss their caps into the air.

Not knowing whether this day would ever arrive, due to the ever-changing nature of what has become known as COVID-19 worldwide, the community previously provided the Class of 2020 with two other memorable events to mark this milestone.

On Diploma Day, held June 9 and 10, each student was invited to the school grounds, by appointment, to receive their diplomas, scholarships and yearbooks from Principal Anthony Loprete and Assistant Principal Joseph Hehn. They also posed for photographs in their caps and gowns with immediate family members with the school’s official graduation photographer.

This was followed by the Class of 2020 graduation car parade on June 20 when town residents lined the parade route throughout on a blazing hot Saturday afternoon to cheer on the students in their decorated vehicles, driven by family members and ending appropriately at the school after passing the fence on Park Street festooned with huge banners of each student’s yearbook photo — a project created by parents and Advanced Photo.

On what was to have been their actual graduation night, back on Friday, June 5, their parents also organized a surprise gift bag drop off filled with all sorts of goodies, including an embroidered Hornet stadium blanket, gift certificates to town restaurants, and a link to a special video highlighting their senior year. The balance of over $2,000 from the donations received to fund the banners and gift bags has been donated to the North Reading Food Pantry in the name of the town’s 63rd graduating class, thus continuing a generous tradition of paying it forward.

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