BUFFALO, N.Y. — Thousands of Western New York teens got to celebrate a huge accomplishment in a way they never expected on Sunday.
A lot of high schools handed diplomas to graduates in ceremonies that underwent some big changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But there was still that sense of accomplishment and excitement in the air, regardless of some changes.
Frontier High School's graduation got started shortly after 6 p.m.
Over at Williamsville North, though, school officials were wrapping up 12 hours of graduation ceremonies. The school had 10 ceremonies to comply with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's rule that no more than 150 students, parents and staff could be at each one.
Seats were six feet apart, and everyone wore masks.
While it was a more traditional ceremony at Williamsville North, Kenmore West had a parade and drive up graduation.
Each student was given hand sanitizer when they got of their car. Then they got their diploma.
Even with changes, both faculty and students at both high schools say they're happy to celebrate in-person.
"We knew that our kids deserve this," Williamsville North principal Andre Thomas said. "We worked really hard at this, but we just felt that they need something that sort of looks like what they previously had at (the University at Buffalo), at our ceremonies there. So we did the best we could to follow safety regulations and give them what we think they deserve."
Added Benera Dauti, a Kenmore West graduate who is headed to Fredonia in the fall: "As a little kid, I always looked forward to a graduation at Kleinhans Music Hall and shaking our principal's hand and everything.
"But since we can't do that today, honestly, I'm not mad about it because this turned out great."