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St. Joesph's Amphitheater to host SUNY ESF graduations

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media File Photo

The St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater season starts this weekend, but it won’t be a concert. It will be the site of the graduation ceremony for the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Onondaga County has struck a deal to keep the school’s graduation at the amphitheater on Onondaga Lake for the next five years. SUNY ESF President Joanie Mahoney said the cleaned-up lake, once called the most polluted in the country, has a special meaning for the school, which focuses on the environment and natural resources.

"There are a lot of faculty here that participated in the clean up of the lake and really appreciated the story that it tells our grads," Mahoney said. "That, this is the impact you’re going to have on the world now that you’re trained as climate warriors, you’ll go out and do projects like this and make the environment a better place."

For many students, Onondaga Lake will not only serve as the backdrop for graduation, but as a classroom. Mahoney said SUNY ESF would be interested in furthering its ties with the lake.

“There are classes that come out here and go out on a boat and continue to monitor the health of the fish, the quality of the water," Mahoney said. "There are a lot of grants that are active supporting faculty and students out here, to the point we would very much like a physical presence out here, a floating classroom.”

The rent from SUNY ESF will allow Onondaga County to buy some new audio and visual equipment, that in the past had to be rented for events like this. County Executive Ryan McMahon said that will open up new possibilities for other events to take place at the Amp.

"Some of these budgets in school districts, they don’t have the budgets that can afford them to have an event here," McMahon said. "So that will help other events where the public can come and enjoy that venue and that’s going to lead to public to seeing it for the first time in some cases, and wanting to come and see a concert."

The concert season starts June 8 this year, with 21 concerts booked through September so far.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.