Niagara-Wheatfield class of 2020 just looking forward

Submitted photoThe Niagara-Wheatfield Class of 2020 before the pandemic. Students have since pulled together to vote overwhelmingly for their first year reunion after COVID-19. 

As the reopening of WNY continues to take shape, many class of 2020 graduates feel stiffed. With graduation being pieced together with virtual slide-shows and standalone walks across the stage; with no senior night or breakfast being planned for the near future; with prom itself being cancelled, students like Katelyn Hoover, president of the class of 2020 at Niagara-Wheatfield, have said, their whole last semester has been taken away from them.

But that doesn't mean they're not making the most of it.

"What we had done is, we created the Instagram page and we, ourselves, posted on all accounts to spread the word," said Kamal Allen, vice president of his class, explaining that he and his classmates sent in pictures and plans for the future. "It was really positive. By the second day I think it was almost 100 posts done (on it). ... People are still sending pictures on it, we'll get maybe one a week still."

In the meantime, Allen talked about being a member of the class of 2020 at the end of its last semester.

"Our actual prom was supposed to be last Friday. Obviously that got cancelled," he said. "So, Kiss 98.5 started this radio prom program, where basically a school owns the radio station for three hours and we were the first ones to do it."

During those hours, students could send in recordings of themselves giving "shout outs" to each other. Allen said, he and some friends got together and parked in a circle with a speaker in the middle.

"We knew it wasn't something that could ever replace our prom," said Hoover. "But it was something that we did to try to give our class something to enjoy, and it had a pretty good outcome, in my opinion. Many people dressed up in their prom dresses and tuxes for the occasion and they took pictures and others went to parking lots and hung out listening to the radio. ... It was the class officers and our advisers and the school did help (to put it on)."

However, now the students are alumni and they still want to commemorate their time together, but they'll have to do it without the school's help.

"We don't have an actual alumni account for after they graduate," Class Adviser Ryan Coyne said. "Some school's do that, where whatever funds they have left go into an account and they can use it for reunions."

Coyne said, most of the students surveyed, 96% of those who voted, wanted to have a reunion next year, something which didn't traditionally happen till after five years. Plans are being made to put funds in an account for the Class of 2020.

"We want to make a reunion, maybe they can wear their prom dresses, it's up to them, but just for that opportunity where we can all see each other for one last time and have fun," Hoover said. "I think there are a few people who are going away, so that's why we want to have it during a good time where everyone's at home."

"All of us were upset that graduation wasn't at ArtPark, that's traditional, but this is actually something very unique and memorable," she said and laughed. "It'll be something to tell our kids when we're older."

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