August 11, 2020

Joyful Car Parade After Lyme-Old Lyme HS Drive-Up Graduation May Have Started a New Tradition

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to include some photos in this essay taken by professional photographer Kim Tyler. If you would like to access her photo gallery of the ceremony, visit this link. The gallery will be available for three months after publicationĀ  for online ordering. Kim, who is an alumni of Lyme-Old Lyme High School, is now a sought-after photographer, and proud to call many Lyme and Old Lyme residents clients.

OLD LYME — It was unlike any graduation ceremony witnessed in Old Lyme previously.

Commencement ceremonies for the Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) Class of 2020 took seven full hours starting at 10 a.m. on Friday. The handful of dignitaries on the stage wore not only their traditional gowns but also face-masks adorned with a Wildcat pawprint.

Photo by Kim Tyler.

Each graduating student — wearing a face-mask — drove up to the appointed place in front of the high school with their family and closest friends — also all wearing masks — and in no more than two cars per student.

Photo by Kim Tyler.

Honor Essayist Theodore ‘Teddy’ Wayland smiles broadly after receiving his diploma.

Students were allowed to remove their masks after receiving their diplomas for family members to snap a few quick photos.

Photo by Kim Tyler.

Photo by Kim Tyler.

Photo by Kim Tyler.

Photo by Kim Tyler.

The faculty were out in force – but socially distanced — lining the high school roadway all wearing masks but not gowns, holding signs and enthusiastically cheering on the students.


There were no speeches nor songs and no bands nor bouquets, there was no choir nor crowd, no marching in nor marching out, and no celebratory turning of tassels nor tossing of caps … and yet this will probably go down as one of the most memorable of all commencement ceremonies.

Normally, on the evening of graduation, the graduates are whisked off to an all-night party at a secret location. That obviously could not happen this year and so instead a group of parents of the seniors organized a car parade for the graduates.

The appropriately decorated cars gathered at Town Woods Park and then the cars under the watchful eye of the Old Lyme Police and supported by the Lyme and Old Lyme Emergency Services, began their journey up Town Woods Rd., right onto Boston Post Rd., then south down Lyme St. and McCurdy Rd.

The atmosphere was charged and the roads were lined with well-wishers.

Sirens were blaring, horns were honking and signs and balloons were everywhere.

The community was thrilled to be able to celebrate the student’s success after such a challenging year. The universal message both spoken person-to-person and on social media was that this parade should become an integral part of future graduations.

How wonderful that after all the disappointment of not having a traditional graduation ceremony, something may have been born that will become a staple in Lyme-Old Lyme High School Commencements of the future!

Sincere thanks to our army of photographers: Kathryn Wayland, Lynn Fairfield-Sonn, Susan Irwin, Michele Dickey, and Michellee Spiers.

We’ll add more photos, a video, and the pre-recorded speeches Sunday morning. Come back and see usĀ  then! Meanwhile, enjoy this wonderful video taken by Old Lyme Volunteer Fireman James Oldfield of the parade from the top of the Old Lyme Fire Department ladder.


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