GNO Collaborative Teachers

Benjamin Franklin High School to Hold Drive-Thru Diploma Distribution on Monday

Date: May 29th, 2020

NEW ORLEANS (May 28, 2020) – Benjamin Franklin High School will hold a day of graduation celebration for its 238 graduating seniors on Monday, June 1. The day will kick off at 11 a.m., when all students and families will receive a link to a virtual graduation ceremony that will feature speeches, awards, and the traditional reading of names. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Franklin will hold a drive-thru diploma distribution at its Lakefront campus. Members of the Class of 2020, wearing Franklin’s distinctive green caps and gowns, will receive their diplomas from Head of School Dr. Patrick Widhalm via their car window.
A full list of our graduates will follow in a later release, but we are proud to announce our valedictorian and salutatorian.


Our valedictorian is David Zhang, who will be studying biology at Duke University next year. The son of Dr. Xiaodong Zhang and Xuyan Sun and the brother of Dan Zhang ’13,  Zhang was a National Merit Scholar and a National AP Scholar. In addition, he served as president of Quiz Bowl Club, vice president of Mu Alpha Theta, and an active member of Science Olympiad. He also plays violin with the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra.


Our salutatorian is Joaquin Gomez, the son of Antonio Gómez and Sonia Sapollnik. Gomez, who will be attending the California Institute of Technology in the fall, was the robotics team president and captain, a National Merit Finalist, a National AP Scholar, and a varsity swimmer who made the state All-Academic team. He also was a finalist at the International Science and Engineering Fair two years in a row with projects on multilingualism and robotic control systems, and he is currently employed as an Android developer, creating an app to improve palliative care for Nepalese cancer patients.  Last summer, he was awarded a Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship to study in Xiamen, China. While at Franklin, Gomez served as a peer tutor and was a member of both Mu Alpha Theta and Academic Games.

For more information, please contact Eve Peyton at (504) 503-0062 or
About Benjamin Franklin High School
Benjamin Franklin High School, New Orleans’ most outstanding publiccharter school, has been preparing students for success through academicachievement since its founding in 1957. Consistently ranked as a “top publichigh school in the nation” by U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, and BusinessWeek, Franklin has received the highest School Performance School inLouisiana, making it the No. 1 public school in the state, year after year. BenFranklin is repeatedly named a National Blue Ribbon School, producingPresidential and National Merit Scholars each year. The exceptional students,faculty, and staff at Ben Franklin are the best and the brightest in New Orleans.For more information, please visit

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