From left, Ocracoke School Class of 2020 members are Alan Doshier, Salutatorian Jesi Franklin, Vanessa Lora, Jesus Morales, Ethan O’Neal, Valedictorian Mila Ortiz, David Styron and Emily Contreras. Photo courtesy of Ocracoke School.

By Peter Vankevich

After a tumultuous year, Ocracoke School will end with graduation like none other.

Rocked by Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19, Ocracoke School students will long remember this academic year.

The school year had barely started before Hurricane Dorian struck on Sept. 6 and damaged the school so badly, it couldn’t be used.

Classes were canceled for a month while administrators scrambled to find alternative class locations. Students ended up using the NCCAT, the second floor of the elementary building and Ocracoke Childcare on Old Beach Road.

In March, the COVID-19 pandemic caused schools to resort to online learning. The pandemic has impacted graduation all over the nation and also for the eight Ocracoke graduates.

Due to social distancing requirements to mitigate the spread of the virus, the graduation will take place at the National Park Service parking lot at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 14.

Principal Leslie Cole will be the commencement speaker.

Those wishing to attend can stay in their cars and listen to it via a broadcast from Ocracoke’s community radio station WOVV 90.1 FM and online at

As part of the graduation week celebrations, a golf cart parade for the graduates beginning and ending at the school circle at 2 p.m. Friday, June 12. 

Here are this year’s graduates and their future plans:
Mila Ortiz, Valedictorian: UNC Chapel Hill
Jesi Franklin, Salutatorian: Ringling College of Art and Design
Emily Contreras: East Carolina University
Alan Doshier: trade school or military
Vanessa Lora: Pitt Community College
Jesus Morales: Pitt Community College to study construction management
Ethan O’Neal: Pitt Community College
David Styron: East Carolina University

The school made a video of graduation in the Community Center in case rain cancels the June 14 event.

The Dolphins varsity baseball team this spring played two out-of-conference games before the regular season and presented themselves well with strong pitching by team captains Dylan Esham and Jackson Strange and notable plate appearances by freshmen Chandler O’Neal and Wyatt Giagu before the COVID-19 pandemic changed their plans. Head coach Jim McClain made sure senior varsity players from left, Alan Doshier, David Styron and Ethan O’Neal had a socially distant Senior Night with their parents. Each player was presented with a personalized Louisville Slugger bat. Photo by Laura McClain
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