COOPERSTOWN — The smiles finally showed up at the end of the school year for Cooperstown Central School's class of 2020.
For a group that had lost almost half of senior year to the coronavirus pandemic, Cooperstown's seniors seemed to make the most of their high school graduation Sunday, June 28.
"This afternoon I see a lot of smiling, happy faces," CCS Superintendent William Crankshaw said. "Young men and women ready to greet the future, knowing your possibilities are limitless."
Sitting socially distant from each other on the school's Paul Lambert 2 Field, most of the school's class of 78 seniors, counting two foreign exchange students, received their degrees Sunday in a modified ceremony.
The Cooperstown seniors even received a recorded message from a fellow class of 2020 member, Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Derek Jeter, who unlike the CCS crew, will have to wait for 2021 for his moment on the stage.
Jeter told the Cooperstown seniors they had already dealt with so much handling their senior year during a pandemic, so they were likely to be able to handle much more in their lives.
"What's a little adventure when you have a plan of attack?" Jeter said.
Jeter closed by saying, "I hope I get to see you next summer."
After the ceremony, the seniors were feted by their parents during a parade down Main Street.
Sponsored by Project Graduation, an offshoot of the annual parent produced Project Prom, the car parade was attended by hundreds of people, including many who skipped the graduation ceremonyto keep crowds low. However, even at the parade, social distancing attempts and masks were common place.
At the graduation ceremony, which was moved from its usual spot on the lawn outside The Fenimore Art Museum across town, families congregated in their cars, only getting out to take pictures or line up for the graduates to receive diplomas.
Unlike most graduations, the faculty mostly stayed at arms length from the students, who were instead given their diplomas by family members.
The ceremony was delayed about 45 minutes by thunderstorms, and it rained intermittently the rest of the afternoon.
Crankshaw told the graduates if coronavirus hadn't stopped them, then a thunderstorm did not have a chance.
"Usually we think of rain as our greatest threat (to graduation)," Crankshaw said. "In light of coronavirus restrictions, any thought of rain is small potatoes."
Senior speakers Torrey Carrascoso, Madison Hurysz, Nora Jensen and Vivienne Parkhurst compared the graduates' lives to the four essential elements, air, water, earth and fire. Carrascoso was reading for Meagan Behan.
"I encourage everyone of you to find that spark, find that thing that ignites you," Jensen said.