FAIRBORN — Despite the pandemic, Fairborn High School seniors still get to walk across a stage to receive their diplomas.
“The class of 2020 will be unforgettable in many ways, and we want to follow as much tradition as possible to make this meaningful in these unprecedented times,” Superintendent Gene Lolli said.
On Wednesday, the first day of commencement began as class representatives delivered their speeches. The rest of the class will return to school in groups for abbreviated ceremonies Monday-Wednesday, June 8-10, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., in order to abide by social distancing and capacity limits. Each graduate is allowed to invite four family members to attend.
Thursday and Friday, June 11 and 12, will be held as make-up days for speeches and diploma presentations.
The class of 2020 celebrated early with a “final drive” on May 22, in which seniors drove around the school one last time, as they were met by the cheers of staff members and family and friends. Graduates are also being honored with personalized banners, which have been hung throughout downtown. Their last tribute will come in the form of a virtual commencement ceremony, compiled and presented at 7 p.m. Friday, June 19 over a Zoom video-conference and online.
The class of 231 seniors collectively earned $3,668,143 in scholarship awards. Graduates have already made diverse plans for the fall, including accepting letters to 46 colleges and universities around the country. Seniors have also enlisted with the Air Force, Navy, Air National Guard, Marine Corps, Army National Guard, and Ohio National Guard.
Marion Joyce (Mary Jo) Johnson was named valedictorian of the class while Riley Keeton is salutatorian.
Johnson earned a 5.0 GPA and participated in academic and musical programs throughout high school as a member of National Honor Society. She was the top scholar, vice president of Student Congress, principal violinist in the FHS Symphony Orchestra, part of the FHS spring musical pit, and pianist in FHS Jazz Band. She serves as co-concertmaster of the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, concertmaster of Springfield Youth Symphony, and principal violinist of Fairborn Regional Orchestra. She has also performed solo classical piano and violin through Piano Preparatory School, Dayton Clavier Club, Ohio Federation of Music Clubs, and Dayton Music Club recitals. Johnson will enter Cedarville University in the fall, where she plans to major in music education in addition to pursuing a master of education in literacy.
Keeton plans to attend Wright State University this fall as a biology major with a focus in pre-med studies. After attending Wright State, she plans to continue her studies in medical school with a focus in orthopedics. Keeton said the coronavirus pandemic has taught her the importance of focusing on the positive aspects of life and to always remember to see the big picture.
Lolli recently shared a similar perspective of positivity.
“To the Fairborn High School class of 2020 — you are to be commended for facing adversity with patience, class and the determination to finish strong. I couldn’t be prouder of each of you,” he said in a school update. “This will be a time that you remember for the rest of your lives. I encourage you to continue to focus on your goals and to plan for your future. You will most certainly soar as you have weathered this adversity with strength and fortitude.”
Call 937-502-4498 or follow Anna Bolton, Reporter on Facebook.