Threatening Storms Move Drive-By Graduation to Auditorium


Not all the graduates were there, but the unconventional graduation was memorable. . . like so much has been for the Class of 2020.

Although a drive-by outdoor ceremony had been planned, threatening thunderstorms pushed the event indoors to the school auditorium.  Graduates’ families (canines included) cheered with the teachers and staff as each senior received his diploma from Principal Patrick Browne, congratulations from President Tom Kiely and a blessing from Father Christian Raj, school chaplain.

Principal Browne particularly enjoyed the evening.  “I am happy to have had the opportunity to see the students one last time,” he said, and then went on to praise the staff members who made the event a reality.

Sydney Ditscheit and family started the presentation while Myles Krzewinski was the last to walk across the stage. Family cars had assembled in the Franklin School parking lot for the drive-by parade, but the change in plans meant 20 graduates at a time entered the school. Obviously, presentations were not in alphabetical order.

Seniors Cassidy Noble and Elizabeth Hoeppner delivered the commencement speeches which are available online at the NDA website. The principal recorded an inspirational message and Father Christian offered a blessing:


The commencement brochure highlighted scholarships and post-graduate plans for all of the seniors.  Valedictorian Benjamin Zabriskie and Salutatorian Joseph Massabni earned top honors for the class.

Never in our wildest dreams did I imagine Abby would end her high school career like this,” said Amy Heyroth, NDA staff member and mother of graduate Abby Heyroth.

“The craziest part for me,” said veteran teacher Carolyn Brown, “was seeing NDA male graduates walk across the stage with beards and long hair.”

The two-hour ceremony emphasized social distancing as well as masks.  Graduates could remove their masks to walk across the stage and pose for an official graduation photo. 

One mother, Jennifer Timmer, posted on Facebook, “Great job, NDA, on a really nice ceremony in the current circumstances.”

Another parent, Kimberly Biese, sent a note of gratitude to the administration: “I am without adequate words to express my appreciation for the beautiful and blessed graduation ceremony. Seeing the hard work and support of all the faculty and staff in the auditorium brought tears to my eyes.”

In the words of one teacher’s sign:  “Class of 2020–You’re Unforgettable.”