UTICA, N.Y. -- The smiles were wider, the cheers. louder, and Proctor pride more prounounced, at the Utica high school's graduation ceremony, Thursday, at the Adirondack Bank Center. It's because many weren't sure they'd see this day -- a live, in-person graduation ceremony.
"Well, I thought my baby wasn't gonna make it through. Stressfull, you know, getting up early in the morning, having to get on the computer, be on it for hours. But, she did it. I'm proud of her," says Crystal Wright, of her daughter.
The seniors spent much of the past year learning at home, in isolation, while dodging a deadly virus. Traditions were terminated; milestones, missed, making graduation day that much sweeter and more deeply appreciated.
"Honestly, it means a lot. Especially knowing the struggle that my little niece went through, from going to class, to having to do everything virtual," says Mike Colon, who traveled from Long Island to see his niece graduate. "I'm so proud of her, that's why I'm glad to be here right now. That's why I'm getting the goosebumps right now just thinking about it."
Felix Deasa carried a bouquet of flowers for his little sister, who is graduating from Proctor.
"It's really special to me. She's a tough girl. She really made it through all these years. I don't know, a lot of us wouldn't be able to adjust to this pandemic stuff, and she did."
Proctor will have two more ceremonies on Friday; one at 10 a.m. and one at 2 p.m.