ODA Graduation Has A Personal Touch in Sarasota

Liz Ramos - The Observer
The Out-of-Door Academy seniors celebrate graduation with individual ceremonies.
Laura Davenport, a senior at The Out-of-Door Academy, stood on the stage proudly in her navy blue cap and gown and ODA mask while Head of School David Mahler talked about her.

"You brought rays of sunshine to this school," Mahler said to Davenport while her parents, Christine and Jim Davenport, watched.

A few minutes later Laura Davenport walked across the stage to accept her diploma. She stood six feet away from Mahler to maintain social distancing.

After waiting months for their graduation ceremony due to the COVID-19 outbreak, ODA seniors finally walked across the stage and received their diplomas in individual ceremonies July 25. ODA's Class of 2020 has 75 students.

"It feels like we've been waiting a long time for it, but it feels great," Laura Davenport said. "It was such a great school, and I'm so happy to have gone here."

Families were able to enter the Petrik Thunderdome to watch their graduate receive his or her diploma after hearing personalized comments from Mahler. They then took family photos in front of an ODA backdrop.

"We all feel disappointed for the Class of 2020," Mahler said. "They didn't receive what classes before them have received in terms of a true commencement, but to have the time in a one-on-one with each graduate and their family is a gift and a blessing. They deserve the recognition, and we're just happy to be able to provide this opportunity for our families."

Although each graduate's ceremony took only a few minutes, graduates and their families were grateful for them.

"It had all the same feelings (as a standard graduation ceremony)," said Amy Sussman, mother of graduate Jay Sussman. "It's nice to have this finality. I feel like we can move on to college now."

The Out-of-Door Academy

LOWER SCHOOL |  Historic Siesta Key Campus  |  Pre-K – Grade 5
444 Reid Street, Sarasota, FL 34242  |  941-349-3223  |  Fax: 941-349-8133

  |  Uihlein Campus in Lakewood Ranch  |  Grades 6 – 8 |  Grades 9 – 12
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