SCHENECTADY — It took them a little longer, but they have now caught up with their peers: Schenectady High School graduates.
Dozens of students and family members filed into Schenectady High School’s auditorium Thursday morning for the district’s second graduation ceremony of the year, this time for students who finished credits or passed final Regents exams over the summer.
Joseph Crippen fell just one class short of joining the rest of his classmates for the June commencement at Proctors. But he stuck it out, making it through a forensics course over the summer. He said the hardest part of high school was “staying focused and not slipping up.”
“I was a little bummed, but I just wanted to get it over with,” said Crippen, who plans to start classes at Hudson Valley Community College in January.
By the end of summer school, 41 more students joined the graduating Class of 2017, lifting the district’s August graduation rate to just over 67 percent, high school principal Diane Wilkinson said. That rate represents a slight drop from last year, when the district reached a 10-year graduation rate record-high of 69 percent by the end of August.
While districts’ June graduation rates are more frequently cited and emphasized under federal law, Schenectady officials point to the August rate as an indication of students’ drive to finish outstanding requirements.
“When I think about the different paths to graduation, it doesn’t always look the same,” Wilkinson said. “But the end result is the same: a diploma that says you did it.”
For the graduates and their families who got to watch the summer ceremony in the more intimate confines of the high school auditorium, the relief, joy and excitement were all the same as if it were June. The new graduates, milling in the hallway outside the auditorium, reflected on their years in school and the future.
“The hardest part was trying to get it through it while still having a lot of other things, like home and trying to find a job, but still trying to focus in school,” said Sarah Bennett, who plans to study cosmetology now that she has finished high school.
Does Crippen think he’ll miss Schenectady High School? Maybe so, he said on his way out the door.
“Not when I was going here I wasn’t, but now I will,” he said.