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Caravan Helps Graduates Isolated by COVID-19

(LaPorte, IN) - The school year wasn’t quite the last hurrah many seniors had hoped for but a caravan honoring members of the LaPorte High School Class of 2020 helped ease their sense of loss.


Tyson Nisley said staying home to learn due to coronavirus was sort of nice, at first, but the longer it lasted the more he realized just how much he was missing. “It didn’t go down how I expected it to.  It was kind of a bummer,” he said.


125 vehicles occupied by graduates and their families Monday evening paraded down a one mile stretch of Lincolnway in downtown. Several police vehicles and fire trucks led the way.

Some graduates rode in convertibles waving to pockets of well-wishers along the state highway closed for the occasion.


Many graduates said the recognition was a morale booster for emotions still a bit scarred by the isolation from classmates, teachers as their school days wound down. Marissa Hughart said the hardest thing for her was not being able to go to prom.  “I cried quite a few times thinking I missed the last part of my senior year and sometimes it’s still hard to think about,” said Marissa Hughart.


Angel Russell with a disappointed look on her face said the fanfare and recognition from the caravan helped “a little but not too much.”  Olivia Zarantonello said especially difficult was losing her final season in softball with teammates she’s had since grade school. She’s chosen to remain positive by focusing on the years they were able to spend together on the playing field.

"It definitely could be worse. We’re thankful we got to play with each other for that long,” Zarantonello said.


Zacharey Wilhelm showing up with a cap and gown didn’t seem bothered much. Wilhelm said he was looking more toward getting his new life off the ground. “I’m an upbeat person so nothing can bring me down.  We’re good,” he said. Schools Superintendent Mark Francesconi said some members of his administration came up with the idea to give back to a graduating class impacted by the pandemic. “I don’t think anything replaces what they missed but it’s the least we can do,” he said.


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