Photo illustration by Renée Jones Schneider • Star Tribune
For many high school seniors, March 13 was unexpectedly the last day of school as they knew it. That meant that many revered senior traditions were suddenly erased due to the coronavirus pandemic: Prom. Final performances and competitions. Skip day. And, of course, walking across the stage in a public commencement ceremony. Quickly, the Class of 2020 learned to adapt, with online learning, drive-by graduation parties and a valuable new perspective on the real world. The Star Tribune heard from hundreds of Minnesota’s outgoing seniors and their families about graduating amid social distancing. Call this our honorary commencement tribute to you: #2020grads.
Select a socially-distanced
graduate to learn more about them.
1: Ayo Olagbaju
Patrick Henry High School
Next: Howard University
Won a Dow Jones News Fund scholarship to study journalism.
2: John Nguyen
Harding High School
Next: Yale University
First-generation college student attending Yale on a full ride — and he was also accepted to Princeton and Brown.
3: Keagan Eng
Math and Science Academy
Next: University of Minnesota
The volleyball captain will attend the U’s College of Science and Engineering.
4: Grace Myler
Shakopee High School
Next: University of Minn.-Duluth
Won a Prudential Spirit of Community Award for her nonprofit Threads for Teens.
5: Dylan Vincent
Breck School
Next: Stanford University
National Merit Scholarship finalist. Leader on the lacrosse field.
6: Olivia James
Wayzata High School
Next: University of Wisconsin
From DECA award-winner to marketing student in Madison.
7: Reese Pantila
East Ridge High School
Next: Bethel College
The football captain plans to play at Bethel and become a chiropractor.
8: Christine Maina
Burnsville High School
Next: Harvard University
A senior-year highlight was her choir trip to Puerto Rico.
9: Chayla Velander
Eagan High School
Next: University of Minnesota School of Nursing
Minnesota All-State Speech Team. Commencement speaker.
10: Kaitlyn Mateychuk
Anoka High School
Next: UW-La Crosse
DECA member. Hockey player. Hopes to become an orthodontist.
11: Pierre Lilly
Austin High School
Next: Morehouse College
Varsity basketball co-captain finished the season strong.
12: Charles Huang
Rosemount High School
Next: Columbia University
He worked to “enhance high school experiences” as student council president.
13: Marta Hill
St. Louis Park High School
Next: Northeastern University
Valedictorian and editor-in-chief of the student newspaper will major in journalism.

Salute to Seniors: Minnesota's class of 2020