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Security increased at Scranton School District graduations

The graduating class of 2022 finally had its commencement, but recent stabbings near a school building meant extra security measures at the ceremonies.

SCRANTON, Pa. — It's a day graduating seniors have anticipated for a long time. 

Thursday night,  hundreds of students received their high school diplomas at Scranton High School and at West Scranton High School, with Scranton police officers staged at every entrance.

Moments of reflection, gratitude, and celebration for senior students in the Scranton School District

After four years of hard work, their families packed into the West Scranton High School auditorium and the Scranton High School gymnasium to watch the graduating class of 2022 receive their diplomas, the next step to adulthood. 

"We can actually go out and work now, make some money, go to college, get that degree and do your dream job," said Gavin Henderson, a new graduate of Scranton. "It's crazy, honestly."

For these students, it was a longer wait than most. 

A weeks-long teacher strike pushed back the start of classes and graduation with it.

"It was fun in the moment, three weeks off of school, but then in the long run it sucked being in this late," Henderson said. "You see all of the other schools in the area graduating already. I have family members in other schools. They already started their summer. I wish I could've too."

"It's nice to know that we're finally done and that we can enjoy summer finally," added Braden Neeson, another graduate.

Amber Goodeliunas, who came to watch her stepson walk across the stage, admired his resolve in the face of obstacles; many of them, brought on by the pandemic. 

"It was not easy for any of them," she said. "My heart goes out to them, but we're going to try to look forward rather than back."

This wasn't a normal graduation day in the eyes of the district, which announced increased police presence in a post on social media. 

There were also security screenings and an enhanced bag policy. 

It comes after an 18-year-old was stabbed to death last week in a parking lot across the street from Scranton High School. 

Police officers were stationed at each entrance, with cruisers surrounding the school grounds.

Parents and students welcomed the additional security. 

"It definitely makes us feel more comfortable in light of recent events, but I don't think anything would've stopped us from getting together and celebrating tonight," Goodeliunas said.

"I do feel very secure," Neeson said. "As you can see, there's many officers here protecting us, making sure nothing happens."

"It was really sad to see that stuff happen, but I'm glad that they're here and they're keeping us safe tonight," Henderson added.

Ceremonies went on without issue and the graduates are looking to the future with optimism. 

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