WILMINGTON — Many of Salesianum’s seniors returned to the Wilmington campus on May 8, as they were previously scheduled to come in and empty their lockers. But through a last-minute addition to the schedule, the Class of 2020 left something at the school that will be part of Salesianum’s future for a long time to come.
The senior class — and many other members of the school community — stopped by to sign the final steel support beam that will be used at Abessinio Stadium, which is rising across 18th Street. The beam, manufactured by Murphy Steel of Newark, will eventually be encompassed in brick as part of the facility’s structural support system.
The coronavirus pandemic upended the final months of high school for the Class of 2020. The students have lost all of those events that mark the end of high school, and the school administration wanted to do something special for them.
“The signing of the beam is a symbolic, and also permanent, reminder of their important contributions to Salesianum’s history and the unfailing strength of the school community,” the school said in a statement.
The beam is painted a bright white, with “Salesianum” and “Abessinio Stadium” across the front in blue and gold. By mid-afternoon May 8, much of the available real estate on the beams had been covered with the names of current and former students and a few others.
Quadir Colvin, a senior, thought about playing the 2019 season all on the road and how it began to wear on the team, but the Sals battled through it and reached the state tournament. The sacrifice, he said, will be worth it for players going forward.
“It means a lot that they get to play on that field, Colvin said. “It’s going to be probably the best stadium in the state besides UD and probably Del State.”
His classmate, Jimmy Chiomento, agreed.
“To have something for us in the stadium is pretty cool. The stadium’s going to be probably the most beautiful one in Delaware. It will be a great venue for people to play at, and I’m excited for the future classes to be able to have something like that,” he said.
Abessinio Stadium is scheduled to open on Sept. 25 with a football game against Appoquinimink, followed by a soccer game the next night against Brandywine. Alex Gioffre said the stadium was a big part of the seniors’ years at Salesianum, even if they won’t get to see any games there as students.
“I thought this was a great idea,” he said. “We’ll be able to come back and remember that we are part of the stadium. Our names are somewhere on the stadium.”
The first name on the beams was that of Guido Schiavi, a 1944 graduate and perhaps the school’s biggest booster. A name on the back was followed by “Class of 2029.” The beams also sported the printed and signed names of many alumni, family members and current students. Gioffre said he could understand why they wanted in on the fun.
“I’d want to be on the stadium, too. It’s pretty cool. I’m looking around and seeing all sorts of names, kids who are juniors, sophomores,” he said.
Of course, the original reason for visiting Salesianum was to empty out lockers, which had gone untouched since mid-March. Colvin said it felt a bit strange.
“It felt so weird because it’s earlier than what it’s supposed to be. Usually, when we’re emptying out our lockers, the hallways are full, everybody’s throwing stuff in the trash, but it’s just me and three other people in the area. It’s not the same experience,” Colvin said.
“Even going inside the school, it was like, ‘Oh, this is what school looks like.”
Chiomento’s mother works at Salesianum, but it was also his first trip back since the school was closed. He said it brought some closure for him and his classmates. He knows students at other schools will not be allowed back inside their buildings, so “at least being able to sign this beam and empty our lockers is really cool.”
The signings will continue Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Abessinio Stadium is on track to open as scheduled in September.
All photos by Mike Lang.