MEDFORD >> The St. Mary of the Lakes School held its graduation July 8 for the 8th grade Class of 2020 outside in the church parking lot, with all of the pomp and circumstance and social distance.

This year was a historical event and was the first-ever graduation held outdoors. The students were seated six feet apart and each family brought their own chairs and were given two designated parking spots to witness the ceremony.

St. Mary of the Lakes School principal Amy Rash greeted the graduates and families and Father Daniel Swift, pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, conducted the Baccalaureate Mass.

Father Swift’s homily praised the graduates for their resilience and faith in which they handled adversity. “What a year! This year has been unprecedented in our lifetime! A pandemic,” said Father Swift. “What separates you as graduates of the class of 2020 is you have overcome adversity.”

Father Swift reminded the graduates that they were faced with being isolated from their classmates at a time when they would have been enjoying the last few months filled with rich blessings that make happy memories. “This class has developed far more than any other, we learn most about life and ourselves, when life is tough,” he said.

After the mass, the 31 graduates were each called out individually to receive their diplomas and awards.

Rash expressed her sentiments, then closed the evening with a video montage of memorable photos from their years as students of St. Mary of the Lakes School.

“This is a unique set of circumstances, just when our students were gearing up for the pinnacle of their 8th grade year, the global pandemic forced the schools to keep students home and learn remotely,” said Rash. “As challenging as it was, I am so proud to see the good that our students could do in the midst of adversity. I am so proud of our graduates and what they have contributed to our school community. You will always be a special part of SMLS.”

Photos courtesy of Lisa Mongulla Photography

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