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St. Francis High School honors seniors with socially distant commencement

Posted at 11:58 PM, May 22, 2020

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) — St. Francis High School in Hamburg honored the Class of 2020 Friday night with a socially distant celebration on the school's field. The night capped off an emotional year for the seniors.

"It was pretty sad because we missed out on sports, our final seasons, having that last memory, and just being in class our last few times," said senior Jacob Lewis.

The 117 graduates and their parents were asked to wear masks. The students lined up six feet apart, and waited to cross the field one-by-one with their parents. They then took a picture in the center of the field with Class of 2020 balloons. On the way out, students and their parents received gift bags. Although the event didn't have the usual pomp and circumstance, seniors said they were proud to be honored.

"It's kind of fun and exciting because it's something different, something you probably won't see in a while," said senior Jacob Donaldson.

The school also put each student's name up on the scoreboard, and set the game time to "20:20."The graduation was scheduled to take place on Friday at Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna. Principal Tom Braunscheidel said it's something the seniors looked forward to.

"We set commencement as a goal for them, to work for and strive for," he said. "And the idea that that wouldn't happen is just devastating for them."

The school's president, Fr. Michael Sajda, said there will be an official ceremony once large gatherings are allowed.

"Hoping maybe by the end of summer, before these young men go onto the next journey in their college life," he said.