North High graduates receive diplomas in unique ceremony

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Maria Fitian smiles for a photo for her family after receiving her diploma on Friday's conferring ceremony, held at North Attleborough High School. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

Though the event was far from a traditional graduation, North Attleborough High School’s Class of 2020 were all smiles during Friday’s diploma conferring ceremony.

The ceremony was arranged to allow the seniors to officially graduate amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put large gatherings on hold. Seniors arrived at the high school in their parents’ vehicles, arranged in groups and called to a stage set up outside the front door of NAHS. Everyone wore face masks and practiced social distancing throughout the event. After receiving their diplomas, the seniors had their photos taken next to a large “2020.” Many of the vehicles were decorated with red balloons or posters marking the occasion and family leaned out of windows or stood through sunroofs to get photos of the graduates.

Maria Fitian, the first to receive her diploma, said that Friday’s ceremony was a good one, though she had been looking forward to the prom and graduation prior to the pandemic.

It’s shocking that it’s finally here,” said Fitian of the big day.

After getting his diploma, Tom O’Neill said that he enjoyed the conferring ceremony and is looking forward to going to Virginia Tech.

I’m moving on to the next chapter,” he said.

NAHS Principal Peter Haviland gave the opening remarks, saying that despite having the last three months so significantly changed, the students had risen to the challenge and were ready for what awaited them. He said the conferring ceremony was the first of its kind, and that despite the pandemic, they were together as a community.

This is a ceremony that none of us ever anticipated,” he said.

Along with the diploma ceremony, there were a number of activities held to mark the Class of 2020. Along with award nights and a musical banquet, June 9 saw the Big Red Rolling Rally, where seniors were driven down Landry Avenue and cheered on by family and friends. Sam Osa Agbontaen was part of the rally, and hopes that it becomes a new tradition in town. Next fall he will be attending Harvard to study computer engineering and said the big question was whether he would be at the college or participating in virtual classes.

It’s nice to see,” he said of the event.

Some of the teachers were in attendance, cheering on the students and congratulating them. Gloria Rice said she missed seeing her class, and Stacia Williams said they deserved to have an event to mark their becoming graduates.

They’ve had such a hard year,” she said. “They deserve all the celebration they can get.”