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Bethlehem High School holds outdoor graduation ceremony

Emily De Vito
Updated: June 26, 2020 12:56 PM
Created: June 26, 2020 11:51 AM

BETHLEHEM – High schools in New York could hold outdoor graduation ceremonies with up to 150 people starting Friday. Many school districts in the Capital Region held ceremonies.

At Bethlehem High School's ceremony, students were able to walk across the stage and pose with their diploma. However, attendees had to wear masks, social distance, and there were only two guests per student.

High School Principal Dave Doemel said when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in early June that outdoor ceremonies could take place with limited people, they got to work quickly. With 391 graduates, the school split the students into eight groups. As the groups rotated, chairs where family and friends sat were wiped down. Student Anna Bernasconi said she didn't know what to expect for graduation.

"It was definitely really wild just not knowing what was coming, because at the time when we left school we didn't know it was going to be canceled for the rest of the year," said Bernasconi. "It's been great what the school has done for us just trying to make it as special as possible, but it definitely was not at all what we expected."

Principal Doemel said it was important for students to get the chance to walk across the stage.

"It's a milestone and for some students it's a bigger deal than others, but I think together collectively as a community it's important to everyone," said Doemel.

Parents were especially grateful to witness the milestone amid the pandemic.

"I was crying so much, it was so beautiful," said parent Nancy Felberbaum. "We're so lucky that we got to have it. We're so lucky that we got to have it in person."

As students head to the next chapter in their life, a reason they all wanted an in-person graduation was to get some closure.

"These are the kids we went to elementary school with, so it's like back to the beginning and it was just really an amazing day to see everyone," said Bernasconi.

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