SCHENECTADY -- The graduating seniors of Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School in Schenectady left their mark on their final day inside the Albany Street building.
For the first time in four months, 45 senior class members made the most of Friday’s socially-distanced, live-streamed baccalaureate ceremony inside the library.
The graduating seniors were accompanied by their parents into the library, picked up their program, diploma and more before being honored by Principal Kiante Jones, receiving a personal prayer from a faculty member and then sharing in a prayer with Father Leo Markert.
Each senior then walked up the rear stairwell, taking in the newly created mural representing stained glass and a cross by senior Alexis Kownack. They then permanently placed their handprint and signature on another mural created by Kownack and Amelia Lucas.
“For most of these kids it’s going to be their last time here, so putting your handprint on the wall you’re kind of just leaving that here,” senior class President Konstantinos Dikas said at the celebration. “It shows the lost year and that back stairwell is going to be dedicated to the seniors.”
The second mural is visible as students turn and ascend the second set of steps, highlighting the challenges that the class of 2020 faced.
Two-sport star Noah Foster used a step ladder to place his left hand print inside the ‘O’ in Class of 2020 at the top of the mural.
“I don’t like to be in the flow with everyone else,” Foster said. “I’m a person who stands out, I just wanted to be a little bit different from everyone else in the crowd, putting it up high, no one else would go up there.”
Principal Jones also wanted this class to stand out.
“I think this is going to be memorable to our students because as far as I know all the other Schenectady County schools either did drive-thru or virtual graduations,” Jones said. “To have an in-person graduation and see our students for one last time is going to be such a powerful, moving experience for them and for the teachers that have been a part of their lives.”
The ability for the local Catholic school to provide a smaller, more intimate farewell to its graduates connected with its seniors.
“I know everyone, everyone’s parents, their siblings and I think it makes for a better learning environment because your teachers know your name, they know your learning style and your friends all know you so well,” senior Alexis Bye said. “I honestly didn’t even think that we were going to be able to come into school to have a graduation or a baccalaureate, I’m definitely very excited to be back in the building.”
The class of 2020 will have one more opportunity to be under the same roof with social distancing guidelines in place again at 9 a.m. Saturday morning at St. John the Evangelist Church in Schenectady.
Reach Stan Hudy at [email protected] or on Twitter @StanHudy.