La Salle Prep’s Class of 2020 graduated on Saturday, June 6.
Because pandemic precautions prohibited the 179 class members and their families from gathering for a commencement ceremony, the school staged a two-part graduation celebration.
In the morning, La Salle broadcast a graduation ceremony from their theater. School leaders in black academic regalia stood on the stage and spoke into a camera live-streaming the proceedings. They then aired commencement speeches by school counselor Seth Althsuler and valedictorians Franny Bengtson, Grace Elkhal, and Ashley Smith.
In the afternoon, the newly minted La Salle graduates drove to the school with their families to pick up their diplomas.
While their families stayed in their vehicles, the graduates walked, one by one, up the sidewalk toward a stage in front of the school. On one side of the sidewalk, face-masked teachers applauded while they stood six feet from one another. On the other side of the sidewalk, the students' families drove by slowly, leaning out of windows and popping out of sunroofs to snap photos and cheer "You did it!"
As each graduate stepped onto the stage, President/Principal Andrew Kuffner - wearing a face mask - stretched out a gloved hand to present a blue folder embossed with the school’s name.
Though Hanna Nguyen would have preferred a traditional graduation ceremony, the new graduate said she was thrilled to see her teachers again.
“It still made me happy to see so many people who have inspired me and taught me so much," she said.
Graduate Evelyn Bergler said it felt like each student had his or her own personal ceremony during the drive-through diploma pickup.
“I got to have my parents and my grandparents right there, I got to stop on the stage, and we got to see a lot of our teachers,” she said. “It was a good ending."