Rebecca Dick participates in a mobile graduation ceremony hosted by Lake Shore High School May 25.

Rebecca Dick participates in a mobile graduation ceremony hosted by Lake Shore High School May 25.

Photo provided by Lake Shore Public Schools


St. Clair Shores-area seniors say graduating in 2020 gave them memorable moments

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 5, 2020

 Mary Holton, the executive board president of the student body at Lakeview High School and the student representative to the Lakeview Board of Education, said that knowing that the entire Class of 2020 is experiencing the same roller coaster ride of emotions makes her feel better about how her senior year ended.

Mary Holton, the executive board president of the student body at Lakeview High School and the student representative to the Lakeview Board of Education, said that knowing that the entire Class of 2020 is experiencing the same roller coaster ride of emotions makes her feel better about how her senior year ended.

Photo provided by Anne Gareau

 Madison Demski, Lakeview High School’s valedictorian, records her speech June 4.

Madison Demski, Lakeview High School’s valedictorian, records her speech June 4.

Photo provided by Madison Demski

Advertisement

ST. CLAIR SHORES — First came the shock, then the disappointment.

But now local graduates say they have a new outlook on what it means to be part of the Class of 2020.

“It’s not just me going through it. It’s the whole Class of 2020 that’s in a unique situation,” said Mary Holton, the executive board president of the student body at Lakeview High School and the student representative to the Lakeview Board of Education.

“It made me feel better.”

When seniors left the halls of their schools in the middle of March, no one knew it would be the last time they walked them as students.

“On that last day, me and my friends kind of made a joke, saying ‘Oh, I’ll never see you again! This is our last day of school!’ And that ended up being it,” Holton said.

Had she known that would be their last day together as a student body, Lake Shore High School senior Rebecca Dick said she might have done things differently.

“It was a little anticlimactic. Our last day of school was some random Thursday in March,” she said.

Nevertheless, they and other St. Clair Shores seniors are trying to look at their experiences in a more positive light.

Dick was the first Lake Shore High School senior to have a mobile graduation ceremony, the evening of May 25.

“I, actually, really loved being the first,” Dick said. “I loved how personal it was because I was able to invite more people to attend” than would have been able to attend a traditional graduation ceremony.

Lake Shore Superintendent Joe DiPonio, Lake Shore High School Principal Janelle Bross, Senior Class President Isabella Papadhima and Board of Education President Sharon Bartlall showed up in a school bus to present Dick with her diploma at her house as her friends and family were seated at 6-foot intervals.

Holton said that she is grateful for everything the school district is doing for her and her classmates.

“I really appreciate everything Lakeview has done to make it up to us, because it really sucks not getting a prom or not getting, like, the expected graduation,” she said. “It just makes me feel better knowing that Lakeview is doing their best to help out the Class of 2020.

“I’m not alone, and we’re not just left hanging.”

Lakeview’s valedictorian, Madison Demski, said she struggles with mixed feelings about how her senior year ended but is trying to look on the bright side of the situation.

“I get to record my speech that they’re going to put on our virtual graduation, which is not what I was expecting, but it’s better than nothing at all. That’s what I keep telling myself,” she said.

Like other students, she was bummed to miss out on prom and senior assembly, but even more so because as class president, she had a hand in planning those events. Finishing her senior year online was not ideal, said Demski.

“I mean, I love studying, I love doing the work, which is not typical of all seniors, (but) it was difficult to transition online,” she said. “There’s a lack of motivation at home. It’s hard to be inspired by the four walls of your room every day.”

Dick said she also felt devastated at first because she enjoys school, but Lake Shore has gone “above and beyond” to make graduation special for the seniors.

“Being able to take these small moments and make them great is something I’ll cherish forever,” she said.

Holton said she can’t wait to tell her future children about her senior year when they enter theirs.

“In my personal opinion, I think the whole pandemic has made our class closer in a way. We all bonded over this one thing,” she said.

There were students she didn’t know very well or talk to much that she catches up with now because they all have so much extra time on their hands.

“It made us more united and stronger,” said Holton.

Demski said that she and the members of her class are making more connections through Zoom, Facetime, Snapchat and texting than they did when it was easy to see everyone in the halls each day.

“It’s something we can all say we experienced together. Can other classes say they graduated in a parking lot during a worldwide pandemic?” she said.

During the Lake Shore High School Honors Night May 30, Dick said it was great to see some of her friends in person again, even if it was from the window of a car.

“We’re bonding together how, yes, we weren’t able to have the typical senior year, but we’re going to try to make the best out of what we have,” she said.

She’s trying to extend her positive outlook toward beginning her freshman year at Wayne State University in the fall, which may also start out online. Although she will be disappointed to have to begin college virtually, she said it may help her ease into the rigors of university schooling.

“If we’re able to go second semester (in person), I won’t be as hurt that I lost my fall semester,” she said.

Demski plans to attend the University of Michigan in the fall to study biochemistry. The university hasn’t said whether classes will be online, in-person or a hybrid of the two in the fall as of yet.

“I’m excited just because I want human contact and I want to see people after all this time. Will I be wary of sharing drinks or being around people who are sick and coughing? Yes, probably a little more than I used to be,” she said. “But I’m so hoping that we get to go and sit in class in the fall.”

Advertisement