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Niagara Wheatfield High School senior cheers up his classmates

Posted at 7:00 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 19:00:02-04

SANBORN, N.Y. (WKBW) — Students around the country are feeling the pain of not being able to celebrate their senior year. One local student has been working to cheer his peers up.

"I just try to bring as much spirit as I can to the school," said Colton Pankiewicz, a senior at Niagara Wheatfield High School.

He read the morning announcements daily this school year. He's known by teachers and students as "The Voice of the Falcons".

"Personally I've loved high school. Especially here at Niagara Wheatfield. I wish I could stay another year if I could," said Pankiewicz.

His last day in a classroom was back in March. He says he's sad to be missing prom, lacrosse season and graduation.

"You want to feel bad for yourself for missing out on those things, but deep down there's more important things and if you have to sacrifice that to save lives then I guess that's what you have to do," said Pankiewicz.

His teachers came up with a way to keep the students connected through all of this, by making the morning announcements virtual. It was meant to be a one time thing, but so far there have been 9 videos, each earning hundreds of views on Youtube.

"At least they can see their classmate and you know, he's being very honest about his experience," said Angela Porter, an English Teacher at the school.

On May 1, Pankiewicz fought back tears when reading the announcements. That was the day Governor Andrew Cuomo announced schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year.

"I woke up this morning to news that I've known was coming. I want to be mad. I want to be upset, I still am a little bit obviously, but I feel selfish for doing so. Think positive thoughts in some way if you can," Pankiewicz advised in the video.

Pankiewicz says he will continue starting his mornings with his fellow classmates as the school year winds down. He hopes to make more memories any way he can.

"We're going to get through this, because we're strong and we're Falcons. Once a falcon, always a falcon," said Pankiewicz.