SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It was an evening of pomp and circumstance for high school seniors in a Lackawanna County School District. But recent violence made these graduation ceremonies look a bit different.
The safety of students and their families is a top priority after a teen was stabbed to death last week in Scranton. It prompted law enforcement to team up with the Scranton School District to increase security measures at Thursday night’s graduation ceremonies.
“We worked really hard to get here, and I cannot wait to cross that stage and just be done,” said Adriana Cardona, West Side High School Graduate, class of 2022.
A standing ovation for west side high school’s class of 2022. Thursday night was their time to shine as they begin a new chapter in their lives.
“I’m just overall happy like it wasn’t an easy four years, so I’m personally proud of myself and all the graduating seniors,” said Jayden Matute, West Side High School Graduate, Class of 2022.
Among the sea of seniors was enhanced security. Scranton police and the Lackawanna County Sheriff’s Department screened everyone before entering, prohibited bags, and tickets were limited.
The District Attorney’s office says it’s all to ensure safety following the fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old last week near the school.
“This is a celebratory event tonight, and these graduating seniors and their families deserve to be in a safe, celebratory environment, and that is our goal,” said Judy Price, First Assistant District Attorney of Lackawanna County.
Eyewitness News spoke to graduates’ family members and teachers about the security measures.
“My grandchildren are number one in my life, so anything that they can do to make things better and defray any problems, I’m for,” said Rose Antoine, Grandparent of the graduate.
“I can’t explain how proud I am of these guys. I’ve seen them grow from freshmen to now young adults, go through a pandemic, go through virtual, heightened security now, I can’t express how important this day is,” said Alicia Baratta, 9-12 learning support teacher, West Side High School.
Everything went smoothly during the ceremony. But quite a few graduates are still processing the chaos that erupted during their final weeks of high school.
“I think it’s very important to keep everyone safe and have all the procedures in, but I’m just slightly disappointed that it took someone being stabbed to get to this point, and I just wish there could have been ways to just prevent something like that,” Cardona added.
The same safety protocols were taken at Scranton High School’s Graduation Thursday night as well. Lackawanna County District Attorney tells Eyewitness News the stabbing investigation is ongoing and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 21.