MOUNT MORRIS - Surrounded by friends, family and loved ones, 35 seniors from the class of 2020 took to the stage Sunday at Mount Morris Central School to receive their high school diplomas.

“I feel happy,” said graduate Kiona Morf. “It was a very nice ceremony.”

Under a tent behind the school, the graduating students took part in the June 28 ceremony. Fans were put up around the tent to ensure proper air circulation and with the COVID-19 pandemic, school officials were careful to make sure they were sitting six feet apart from each other.

“I am still in shock,” said graduate Averie Matson. “As of a few weeks ago none of this was able to happen and a bunch more guidelines opened up and we all get to be here and celebrate as much as we can.”

Since mid March, schools have been closed and instead of classroom learning, students switched to distance learning. Many said the pandemic and the cancelation of major events, such as the senior prom, made their last year of high school difficult.

“I thought like, ‘Are we going to pass during this whole quarantine thing?’ But I guess we did,” said graduate Douglas Wade.

To help the students celebrate their big day, Mount Morris graduates and world renowned musicians, the LaBarbera brothers, were at the ceremony though a video message to give the students inspirational messages and congratulations on graduating. In addition to hearing from the keynote speakers the graduates also got up from their seats to present loved ones with carnations.

Class president Jesse Bacon also spoke to the students and wished them continued success.

“We are just so happy for everything that they accomplished,” said Superintendent Greg Bump.

Of the 35 graduates, some are going on to college while others are going in the work force and three are joining the U.S. Marine Corps.

Others, like Wade, are still not sure what they’re going to do.

“I am thinking about getting a summer job, then around January I might apply to MCC for culinary,” he said.

Matson said she isn’t thinking about college right now and is instead focusing on spending time with her family.

“I am super happy that my family flew in from multiple states,” she said. “So just lots of family time after this.”

Following the ceremony, the graduates took pictures and celebrated with family. While they may be leaving high school, Bump said some will be back at the end of the year.

“What is nice is that at Thanksgiving and Christmas time we hold an event here at the school and the graduating seniors come back and give advice to those students that are still in high school,” said Bump.

Celebrating the end of what many say was a tough year and a fresh start to a new future.

“I am just stoked that it all worked out,” said Matson.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1