Each student who pulled up to the front of Stamford High smiled as they got out of their car and walked towards the table decked out in orange and black set up outside the door.
If you had told any of them three months ago they would be so ecstatic to be at school, they would have laughed.
However, after being out of school since March due to the coronavirus, being back at the old brick building felt like something normal, even if everyone there was wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
“I didn’t know I would miss it this much when I first left,” Stamford senior lacrosse player Ben Duquene said. “It’s all the small stuff I miss. I am just not ready to move on from this place without having a graduation and stuff. It means a lot that they did this today. It means they care. They took time out of their day to set this up and I really appreciate it.”
Duquene, who will be attending Eastern Connecticut, was one of four student athletes who came to the school Wednesday afternoon for the “drive-up signing” for students going to play sports in college.
Four students came on Wednesday, each a half hour apart, and four came last week to sign a certificate saying they were going to play sports in college.
They sat at a desk adorned with Stamford colors and in front of the Black Knights logo on a large backdrop as family and coaches looked on.
There was hand sanitizer to the left and disinfecting wipes to the right to keep the pens and hands clean.
The drive-up signing was the brainchild of Stamford High athletic director Chris Passamano.
“I was trying to come up with a way to do something for our seniors that wouldn’t interfere with social distancing,” Passamano said. “We stagger everyone a half hour apart and it is just family here to watch. They get a moment; they get the certificate and they get a special pin. We wanted to give our seniors something special when they have lost so much.”
Jessica Nelson missed the final month of her basketball season due to a broken arm, but she had no idea she would then miss the end of her senior year, altogether.
Nelson lingered after her signing, seemingly to not wanting not to leave the school grounds for fear it could be her last time there in any official capacity.
“This means a lot to me. It is a tying up of the last part of my senior year,” said Nelson, who will play basketball at the University of Bridgeport. “Since I didn’t get to finish my season or my school year, this is a good way to end things. I miss it so much. I wish I could be here every day. As much as I said I couldn’t wait to leave, I miss it so much.”
Mellany Sanchez, a girls lacrosse player off to play at UMass-Dartmouth, came to the signing with her father.
“I thought I was going to miss my chance to sign because I wasn’t committed before we had to leave school,” Sanchez said. “I was talking to my dad on the way here about how long it has been since I even just passed by the school.”
The fourth athlete signing, Zach Appolon, will also play men’s lacrosse at Eastern Connecticut.
“This shows that I worked very hard to get to another level and the school is acknowledging that,” Appolon said. “I started playing (lacrosse) my freshman year and coach Nazz (Mike Nazzaro) has worked with me, a lot to help me get to a level I want to be at.”
Last week, four other athletes signed in the school’s first drive-up signing day.
Jay Lockwood will be playing baseball at Eastern Nazarene College; Isabella Ranero and Tiana Furnaros are both going to Sacred Heart University for cheerleading and Jalen Judson is attending Hudson University where he will play football.