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Notre Dame HS (Lawrenceville) Goes Above and Beyond for Graduating Seniors

The COVID-19 Pandemic stole many important senior year events from the Class of 2020 but they were not stripped of a graduation ceremony. Notre Dame Principal Mrs. Joanna Barlow along with her administrators and staff, worked tirelessly to organize and execute 286 individual graduations. This all happened while still managing the cyberlearning platform that took the place of traditional learning for all of our students during this difficult time. 

In addressing her classmates, Class of 2020 Valedictorian, Marissa Vizzoni spoke of lessons she learned as a student, “Notre Dame High School has shown me how to ride the roller coaster and follow through on many levels. It has allowed me to nurture relationships that brought me new friends and strengthened relationships with many old ones. I have come to understand just how important all these friendships are. Without these people who mean so much to me, high school would have been a completely different experience, an experience I do not want to imagine.”

The Class of 2020 Salutatorian, Brayden Meskill reminded his classmates how amazing they are, “Our class has been an exceptional class--excelling in academics, athletics, performing arts and service. Along with other great accomplishments achieved by this amazing class, such as 118 colleges next year, two classmates will be attending the military, we captured more than 20 CVC Championship Titles, multiple MCT and Sectional State Championships. Cortaz Williams set a new school rushing record while Seamus Harding now holds every state of New Jersey diving record; along with 35 Seniors continuing their athletic careers at the collegiate level. Performing Arts put on a masterpiece show every year, that we found in The Little Mermaid, Shrek, Guys and Dolls and Beauty and the Beast this year. And each of us proudly contributing to the 35,000 service hours achieved over our past four years.”   

Special awards were also presented during the taping of our virtual graduation event. They included: 
Award for Excellence in Religion (Gold Medal, Gift of the Most Reverend George W. Ahr, S.T.D.) – Luke Casimir Okupski 
Principal’s Award: Quentin Simon Autry
Irish Spirit Award: Rachael Doan
Service Presentation: Zachary Christopher Klein and Alexa M. Ryan

Academic Honors went to:
Nolan Brody 
Joseph P. Hoffman
Jillian Elizabeth Cary 
Kathryn Rose Honnig
Nicholas Anthony DeMille 
Dora D. Krstic
Sara Bryony Gemmell 
Joshua Emmanuel Romero
Molly Catherine Hart 
Marisa Elizabeth Vizzoni

Many other awards, including Athletic awards, were presented the to graduating class during our virtual Senior Awards night on June 4. The list of awards is available for viewing on the Notre Dame website, Class of 2020 page. Notre Dame is also proud to announce that our graduating Class of 2020 has been awarded scholarships which amount to more than $37,498,826.
Principal Mrs. Barlow concluded the virtual graduation describing the Class of 2020 in one word, “…I would say you are resilient. COVID 19 happened to you but how you responded was extraordinary.  You responded with maturity, compassion, creativity, and bravery.  Your class has proven that together you can adapt to any circumstance. Class of 2020 you are our hope.”
It took weeks of planning on the part of Notre Dame administration and staff, 3 days of filming and many more hours of editing by Mr. Dave Chebra and alumni, Aaron Bartuska ’16 who produced a beautiful video presented on Sunday, June 7. The video is available for viewing on the Notre Dame website and our YouTube Channel, NotreDameHS1957.
The virtual commencement began with a live-streamed Baccalaureate Mass from the Notre Dame Chapel celebrated by ND Chaplain, Fr. Jason Parzynski. The mass included a special homily message from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.  Traditionally at graduation, the Golden Irish Honor Guard lead the graduating class into the arena. This year a special message from the Golden Irish Class of 1970 was presented virtually to the graduates.
The Class of 2020 did not miss out on any of the special traditions that make up a Notre Dame graduation! In addition, due to the efforts of our Advancement Office and members of the PTA, Post Prom and Fashion Show committees, the Class of 2020 were treated to gifts in the weeks prior to graduation as well as an abbreviated version of our Post Prom event. 

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