KENMORE, N.Y. — St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute held a drive-through celebration for more than 150 seniors in the class of 2020. Many wore their graduation garb as they passed through the parking lot.
Students and their families were cheered on by faculty, staff and the board of trustees.
"We get to see all of our teachers who have turned us into the gentlemen that we are today, and we get to see a glimpse at a couple of our brothers as we pass by," said Evan Hilbert, a member of St. Joe's class of 2020.
He added, "As you're going past you kind of relive memories inside your head. It's really nice."
St. Joe's President Christopher Fulco told 2 on Your Side, "I think it meant the world to the students to see their teachers. I know it meant a lot to the teachers to see the students and that's just the kind of close-knit family that we are here at St. Joe's."
The celebration was planned for a day that already held a special meaning.
St. Joe's Principal Jim Spillman explained, "May 14 was our graduation day, and on a normal year we would've been down at Kleinhans Music Hall with about 1,500 people. Obviously that wasn't an option this year, but we wanted to celebrate our graduates on their graduation day and commemorate that special moment."
Many schools in the area still have yet to determine how they'll be honoring their seniors during the pandemic, so this idea could potentially pave the way.
"We were excited to bring these kids back home to a place that's been so meaningful to them. There's plenty of space to spread out here and it really was a fantastic celebration even in the rain," Spillman added.
St. Joe's still hopes to have a traditional graduation ceremony in the summer or even fall, when it's permitted.
But in the meantime, this gave students and their families some closure to an important life chapter.
"It was definitely an emotional time as much as it was a fun and exciting time for all of us," Spillman said.
Added Evan Hilbert: "Leaving, I will know that I have plenty of brothers, friends to have my back whenever I need them."
Evan's father William Hilbert added, "Glad to be a part of history. Go Joe's!"