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THURSDAY, JULY 16, 2020 SOUTHBOSTONONLINE.COM

NDEC’s Virtual Graduation Ceremony by Rick Winterson The Notre Dame Education Center (the NDEC) is a local education facility. NDEC states its mission as follows: “To provide quality education and support services in a diverse, caring community that empowers adult learners to realize their full potential.” The NDEC held its 2020 Graduation on Monday evening, June 29. According to NDEC’s Executive Director, Christine Durante, Esq., “It was a Commencement Ceremony like no previous one, on June 29, 2020, when NDEC held its first ‘Virtual Graduation’ due to COVID-19 concerns.” Actual, real diplomas along with authentic caps-and-gowns had already been delivered in advance, to each home of the graduating candidates for these diplomas before the Commencement Ceremony began. The Ceremony itself was conducted via ZOOM and attended remotely by the NDEC faculty, its Board members, and the families and friends of the graduates. During all of the preparations and the Ceremony itself, Social Distancing and complete Coronavirus protection procedures were carefully followed. It was not only a unique graduation; it was also uniquely exciting for everyone who viewed it. After Dr. Durante’s opening remarks, she asked Sister Geraldine Burns, SND, for an Invocation. This was followed by a Welcome Address from Charles Shediac, who is the Chairman of the Board of Directors NDEC. Manny Reynoso, the NDEC’s Program Director, then presented an Outstanding Service Award to instructor Elaine Fallon for her tutoring of students throughout the school year, especially during the transition to online classes. He said, “Elaine has been enormously essential to our Adult HiSET class.” Anna Vincenza Abban from the Class of 2020 gave the “Candidate Address”. In it, she stressed the unique challenges students encountered due to the mandated COVID-19 guidelines; she praised the 2020 Class for their perseverance. Adam Berndt, Case Manager/Instructor, conducted the “Presentation of Candidates” – the highlight of the Commencement Ceremony. The 2020 diplomas were awarded to the following (listed alphabetically):

Anna Vincenza Abban Valencia Bernard Darrin Black Angelina Castillo Natima Briana Charles Miranda Doris Jalon Fortes Meesha Frances Jean-Louis Cassie Newton Kassandra Nicole Rodriguez Flores Armani Torres After this, NDEC Program Manager Leslie C. Feeney led the students in the “Turning of Tassels”, a long-practiced graduation custom that perhaps goes all the way back to Medieval times, when students’ mortarboard headgear changed from round to square-shaped. In a heartwarming sidelight, Feeney had personally delivered cap-and-gown sets to each neighborhood home of the graduates, in her car she had decorated with congratulatory designs and lettering. In many neighborhoods, local residents joined her in her deliveries, creating informal parades honoring the graduates-to-be. A truly nice touch! When asked about what makes the NDEC programs so effective, Executive Director Durante and the NDEC Staff listed the small class sizes, along with one-on-one academic support and case management, when needed. Academic rigor prepares the students for post-secondary college studies and careers. They seamlessly become virtual environment-digital “natives”. They are a diverse group, hailing from South Boston and Dorchester, who achieved a 100% graduation rate this year. All of them plan to go on to colleges and/or advanced training programs. At the end of her remarks, Executive Director Durante expressed both her pride in, and her excitement about the future of the 2020 NDEC graduates. She also ventured a prediction that NDEC will move back into its permanent home, now being rebuilt at 200 Old Colony Avenue, early in 2021.

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