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Kensington High School Holds Last Graduation

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The Kensington High School Class of 2003 became part of history Wednesday. They are the last to graduate from the well-known Buffalo high school.

Graduating seniors, alumni and former teachers proudly sang Kensington's Alma Mater. The school's 66th commencement ceremony took place at UB's North campus.

In April, the Buffalo School Board voted in favor of closing Kensington because of poor academic performance and low enrollment. With just a little over 60 seniors at yesterday's commencement -- it was the smallest graduating class in the school's history. Graduates, like Ceyaira Green say the day was "bittersweet" as they celebrated their achievements while saying good bye to the school.

"In a way it is good, because we are the last class," Green said. "It is something special in that way, but we feel bad for the underclassmen."

Maybell East stood with Green, her great-grand daughter, smiling as she walked in her yellow color cap and gown. East says graduating from Kensington has become at tradition for her family.

"Her mother graduated and I have two other daughters who also graduated (from Kensington)," East said. "I hope they save it. I hope they will."

But saving the school in the midst of a massive finanical crisis for both the district and the city is not likely. However, board members who voted in favor of shutting down school to save $5 million admitted it was a difficult action.

Retired teacher Clara Panzica taught for 30 years and says many successful people graduated from Kensington.

"It breaks my heart because it was wonderful," Panzica said. "I only hope that it can come back, some how, because Kensington was always beautiful."

Fifty-seven years ago, Betty Mathien graduated from Kensington. But even the school closes Mathien says she will remain an active alumna.

"We are going to keep the alumni going and I hope over time we can get more of the younger ones involved, because us older people can't keep going forever," Mathien said.

And it is that alumni spirit that will keep Kensington alive in the hearts of those who graduated over the last 66 years.