Created: June 17, 2021 06:32 PM
GREECE, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Greece Central School District took a unique approach to graduation this year.
In Greece, the class of 2021’s graduation ceremonies were divided into small groups of students. From Saturday, June 12 through Friday, June 18, students from all four Greece high schools walked the stage in groups of nine or fewer. Ceremonies were held at the Greece Central Performing Arts Center, and each student was allowed up to nine guests.
There were a lot of empty seats in the auditorium, which was a reminder for students and staff of the challenging year behind them.
"This year has been the craziest, busiest, most abnormal year I have ever seen in my 20-year career in education,” said Dr. Jeff Henley, principal of Greece Odyssey Academy. “And for us to be able to hand out diplomas in somewhat of a normal way, it makes it all feel better."
Despite not having their whole class around them, students and families said that there were some silver linings to doing graduation this way. The main perk? Students didn’t have to wait as long for their big moment. Each group of students was done in about 15 to 20 minutes.
"I've heard parents say that they never want to go back to a normal graduation again,” Henley said. “That they love the intimacy of this type of performance."
Students weren’t sure what to expect for graduation until several weeks ago.
"When they announced that we actually get to walk across the stage, I was very excited," said graduate Lislian Bultron. Bultron is hoping to pursue studies at MCC in the fall.
Family members were just as thrilled to be able to attend in person instead of watching online or from a car.
"The fact that she actually got to have the big auditorium experience, being able to walk the stage, having other teachers there,” said Tierra William, who was at Greece’s graduation supporting her sister Thursday. “I think that it was a great experience.”
For those that were unable to attend, and for people who want to get more of a full-length graduation experience, the district is putting together a video of all graduates walking the stage back-to-back. It’s scheduled to be released on June 25, which is the original date of graduation in the district.
Jewel Burnice was one of the graduates who walked the stage in Greece Thursday, and she has a bit of advice for other students.
"Don't give up and think that you just can't do it, because you can" Burnice said. "You just gotta work towards the stuff you really want in life."
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