Rome Free Academy’s 2012 graduation on June 23 will be streamed live to the Internet, the school district announced Thursday, and among those welcoming the move is U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Lloyd Barrigar in Afghanistan.
Barrigar, of Rome, is serving his fifth Middle East deployment and will not be home for the RFA graduation of his son, Zachary Barrigar.
But with the upcoming broadcast through a link from the district website, the 10 a.m. June 23 ceremony can be seen live by Barrigar at 6:30 p.m. in Afghansistan based on the 8 1/2-hour time difference, said his wife Valerie Barrigar. She added, "it doesn’t matter what time....He’ll be up for it."
She said her husband "was really bumming out" when he learned he could not get home, and an Internet stream was "the next best thing I could think of." She said she contacted RFA in March asking if it could be streamed, and in mid-May heard back that "they thought they’d be able to do it for him."
The district "recognizes that there are family members that are not able to attend graduation. There are also several family members that are serving their country and will not be here on graduation day," according to the announcement.
Superintendent Jeffrey P. Simons said "We feel that it is important to include all family and friends in the ceremony, especially our military families. I am sure there have been many family events that Mr. Barrigar has had to miss, but this year he will see his son graduate real time."
Lloyd Barrigar, serving with headquarters company in the 2-108 Infantry of the New York Army National Guard, began his latest deployment in January including going to Afghanistan in early May, said Valerie Barrigar.
Among prior deployments, she said, were Iraq and Saudi Arabia during his active duty Army service from 1990-94, plus Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2008 after he entered the National Guard following the September 2001 terrorist attacks. He is a state corrections officer.
The RFA graduation live streaming "is fabulous because it will make my husband feel more like part of the event, rather than just seeing pictures or a recorded version later," said Valerie Barrigar.
Her husband "has missed many important moments over the years, but this will help him feel that he’s at least there, in part, for our son’s next step in life."
Zachary Barrigar will be attending Utica College to major in criminal justice, and will play football after also playing for RFA, said Valerie.
The Barrigars have a daughter, Clarissa, who graduated from RFA in 2010, which luckily "fell on a non-deployment year," she added.
The June 23 ceremony at RFA Stadium will be available for online viewing by going to www.romecsd.org and clicking on a graduation link.