Class of 2020 makes school history with creative Commencement, record-setting achievements

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DCL’s 30th Annual Commencement will be remembered as the most creative and perhaps the most joyous send-off for any graduating class in school history.

Because of social distancing required by the pandemic, NDCL moved the ceremony from the Mentor Fine Arts Center to the Mayfield Road Drive-In. Members of the senior class chose the drive-in option after considering seven different ways to celebrate the end of their high school days.

Mother Nature cooperated with an absolutely gorgeous spring evening that allowed families to decorate their cars with signs, streamers, and even a huge commencement cap and graduation cake. Crews from the Munson Fire Department hoisted a huge American flag from their ladder truck, and deputies of the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office assisted with event management and traffic flow.

HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: The Zumerling Family pulls into the Mayfield Drive-In for Commencement, complete with a huge cut-out of son Mark in his graduation cap and gown.

While the drive-in setting was anything but traditional, the event featured a video presentation with all of the time-honored elements of NDCL commencement ceremonies, including prayer led by seniors Mary Grace Raddell and David Beebe as well as the Ave Maria and Alma Mater sung by a Zoom choir of seniors under the direction of Music teacher Mr. Adam Pysell ’05.

Principal Mr. Joseph A. Waler delivered the commencement address—his first since coming to NDCL 14 years ago.

In his remarks, Mr. Waler reflected on the effects of the pandemic by describing how an oyster responds to an irritant by coating it with layer after layer of a substance that ultimately forms a pearl. He challenged the graduates to transform the irritations and disruptions of the pandemic by offering the world pearls of their own.

“That’s our challenge: To make a pearl,” Mr. Waler explained. “You see, no amount of thinking—not even overthinking—will remove the virus, but you and I can improve its effects in our lives, on our plans, our emotions, and, perhaps most importantly, on our relationships. Are we using our brains and our hearts to form bright pearls of hope and possibility . . . or are we coating our lives and the lives of others in despair and bitterness?”

“Remember: The oyster doesn’t ignore or dismiss the irritant. He takes it in, makes it part of his world, if you will, and then makes something better out of it. You can do that too,” he stressed.

We are extremely grateful to Dominic Mann ’19 for his video expertise in creating the virtual commencement ceremony and video recap montage of the evening’s festivities. We also thank Mr. John Knepp, owner of the Mayfield Drive-In, and his staff for helping us create, as we sing in our Alma Mater, memories of our high school days that will bring joy for years to come!

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