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Next-door graduation

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld
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Mia Simon, Tyler Fernbach, Mary Shannon McConaty,

Grads Mary Shannon, Tyler and Mia pose by the chalk masterpiece created in the Simon's driveway by Mia and Tyler’s cousin, Camille Boudreaux.

Judy Simon was mulling over how to create a memorable celebration for daughter Mia, who recently graduated from American University in Washington, D.C., when it hit her – the empty lot next door to their home would be the perfect location for a socially distanced family ceremony. Judy invited nephew Tyler Fernbach, a recent graduate of St. Thomas High School, plus family friend Mary Shannon McConaty, a recent graduate of Xavier Academy. Family dogs wore special mortarboard hats. Mia and Tyler’s cousin, Camille Boudreaux, created a chalk masterpiece for the grads in the Simons’ driveway, and guests received commemorative face masks to wear. Mia’s brother, Chris, broadcast the ceremony via Zoom. The commencement speaker was Mia’s mentor, Sima Ladjevardian. Mary Shannon, a singer and songwriter, concluded the touching ceremony with a performance of “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran, and Mia’s dad, Chris, accompanied her on the drums. Pictured (from left) are Mary, who will study at Berklee College of Music; Tyler, who’s off to Texas Tech University; and Mia, who will work as an events coordinator in Houston. For more, see “Celebrating Graduation Next Door” by Karen Vine Fuller

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