AMSTERDAM — Since the COVID-19 crisis began and New York state was placed on PAUSE, the halls of the Greater Amsterdam School District have been very quiet.
Each day, high school Principal Tyrone O’Meally was still busy with phone calls, emails, answering questions and formulating questions of his own, but the halls were absent of the students that he looked forward to seeing.
On Wednesday, he wasn’t in his office — he was on the road contacting his high school seniors.
O’Meally, along with several staff members and teachers, continued their journey this week to bring lawn signs to each of the 270 Amsterdam seniors to congratulate them for their achievements and let them know that they have not been forgotten.
“The class advisors approached me a few weeks ago, ran it by me and asked what I thought,” O’Meally said. “They said the students have lost so much this year, that this is just the right thing to do and we just ran with it.”
The 270 signs were purchased with $2,000 in donations from faculty and staff within the Greater Amsterdam School District as the plan to distribute them was hatched.
“Logistically you have to map out a route for every single senior, but the key to make it possible is when you have people who are passionate about what they do,” O’Meally said. “I work with a great team at the high school, they put it together.
“We had one of our IT personnel put together our routes, and then we had one of the parents who has a senior in the class customize all the routes.”
The group handed out 60 signs Tuesday and more than 100 Wednesday, with about 50 set to be delivered Thursday, with the remaining signs delivered Friday.
“We started at 11 a.m. today and we just finished,” O’Meally said via phone. “We’ve been out there for about seven hours, but it didn’t feel like seven hours because you know it’s the right thing to do.”
The Amsterdam graduation caravan included O’Meally on a school bus, the class advisors along with several teachers and faculty in adjoining cars for the celebration.
At each stop, O’Meally, with a T-shirt emblazoned with “Amsterdam LOVES our seniors 2020,” a megaphone and a purple Amsterdam Rams bandana face mask, ready to celebrate with all 100 seniors.
It was at times a daunting task.
“The first two hours were great today and then we looked and we only did 10 or 15 signs,” O’Meally said. “Then all it takes is when you pull up to a house, the family is sitting there, they just come out and they just start crying. It was worth it 100 percent.”
Every stop that O’Meally has made and will continue to make this week is worth it.
“They’ve got something that was taken away from them, they’ll never get it back,” O’Meally said about the end of the senior’s final year at Amsterdam High School. “The thing we’re doing, the small thing we’re doing, they appreciate it.
“Once you see the smiles, the tears, the joy, the families are appreciative. That’s priceless.”
Reach Stan Hudy at [email protected]