In graduation gowns, Kerra Masella and three fellow Temple University graduates stood on the stairs of Sullivan Hall, the school’s main administration building, a little after noon on Thursday.
Each had a bottle of champagne.
The coronavirus robbed them and other college graduates across the country of a commencement ceremony; theirs was supposed to have been earlier in the morning. But there was no pomp and circumstance.
There was a pop. And a pop, pop, pop.
“I feel like that was a proper celebration,” said Masella, 22, an advertising major from Middletown, N.J., as champagne shot over the steps and all took a healthy swig from their bottles.
“Let’s graduate again,” said Jaylene Everett, 22, a biology major from Harleysville.
So it went on the sun-splashed urban campus on a perfect picture-taking day, when little else in the world was perfect.
Renee Johnson, 22, an applied math major from Oaks, sat in a circle with family and friends in front of Charles Library, opening gifts they brought for her, including plants, crystals, and a notebook full of quotes from loved ones.
“We tried to make it as much a gathering as we could," Johnson said.
Nearby, graduates Lauren Livingston, 22, of Easton, Pa., and Dan Rantz, 21, of Royersford, were waiting in line to get their pictures taken in front of the Owl statue in O’Connor Plaza.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Livingston, a risk management and insurance major.
“There’s a lot more going on than just us graduating right now,” said Rantz, a finance major.
Rosemary George, 21, a biology major from Northeast Philadelphia, went to campus to get photos, too.
“It was just really sad. It didn’t feel like we were graduating,” she said. “So I just kind of wanted a little memento of Temple and me.”
Akina Abdullah, 24, a liberal arts major, was beaming.
“I feel overwhelmed with excitement,” she said. “It was not an easy journey for me.”
She took time off to give birth to her son, now 3, who sat nearby with other family members as she got her picture taken.
Abdullah said she had her own Zoom ceremony in the morning with family.
“I walked across my living room stage,” she said.
Alyssa Corse, 21, a civil engineering major from Annapolis, Md., and Erica DeProspo, 22, a strategic communication major from Bridgewater, N.J., donned their caps and gowns and checked out Temple’s commencement website in the morning. Then they walked around campus for pictures. Drivers honked and yelled “Congratulations!” as they passed.
Both said they felt pretty good.
“We lost the end of it," DeProspo said, “but we had such a great 3½ years that it’s been OK.”
As for the champagne poppers, they planned to order from their favorite restaurant, Philly Style, and eat cake.