POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWTI) — At a series of three in-person commencement ceremonies, SUNY Potsdam honored its Class of 2021 on May 22.

Graduates gathered in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at The Crane School of Music, along with SUNY Potsdam leaders and faculty, and additional guests watched the ceremony virtually.

All graduates were spaced out within the hall, wore face masks and exchanged elbow bumps with friends and professors. The ceremony also featured a slideshow which displayed graduates’ photos, degrees, honors and words of appreciation.

Dance major Briana Polite ’21 celebrates while walking across the stage to receive her diploma on May 22 (photo: SUNY Potsdam)

SUNY Potsdam President Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg addressed the class and the hardships they faced during the pandemic.

“What a year it has been! A year marked by loss and by renewal. A year marked by accomplishment and creativity, as well as by sadness and, at times, despair. A year marked by persistence and by hope,” said President Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg.

Dr. Esterberg also honored and reflected on the unexpected loss of Crane School of Music Dean Dr. Lonel Woods, who passed away in mid-may.

“Dr. Woods put students first in everything he did, and I know that he would want us to celebrate you and all you have accomplished. He would be laughing with the joy of your Commencement, singing your achievements, and encouraging you to find celebration and hope, optimism and communion, peace and love, on this important day. And so, I will honor Dr. Woods by honoring you, the graduates, and celebrating you,” shared Esterberg.

Additionally during the ceremony, Childhood/Early Education Student Kanenishon Arquette recited the Ohen:ton Karikwatekhwen, “The words before all else,” greeting in the Mohawk language and in English translation and Reykwaan Adorno sang a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.

SUNY Potsdam Student Government Association President Cara Ramsaran also delivered remarks to the class with a prepared video.

 to the Class of 2021! You made it to graduation day despite our entire whole world going sideways. You have endured a global pandemic, social distancing and remote learning to make it here today. You have mapped out a path to graduation that was uncharted in an unsure world,” stated Ramsaran.

Jake LaBate ’21, left, adjusts Adara Hoyne’s mortarboard Saturday morning before SUNY Potsdam’s Commencement ceremony at Hosmer Hall.

To close the ceremony, Cara Navaretta led the traditional singing of the “Alma Matter.”

SUNY Potsdam held three commencement ceremonies on May 22, 2021 for the Class of 2021. A recording of all ceremonies can be found on the SUNY Potsdam website.