27 senior banners stolen two days before graduation

Warwick. 27 banners celebrating Warwick Valley High School seniors were stolen from the lawn of Chateau Hathorn between the evening of Wednesday, June 22 and Thursday, June 23.

| 28 Jun 2022 | 04:51

On Tuesday, June 21, Track 7 Postal Center dropped off over 300 senior banners to Warwick Valley High School. The school installed them on Chateau Hathorn’s lawn on Wednesday. And by 8 a.m. Thursday morning, the Warwick Police Department received a complaint that multiple banners were stolen and vandalized overnight.

Track 7 owner Eileen Patterson went over to assess the damage: 27 banners were stolen. Others were still standing, but with damaged poles.

A tradition vandalized

The senior banner tradition started just two years ago in 2020, in an effort to celebrate the graduating class after months of remote learning and cancelled events. Track 7 printed the banners, featuring the portrait of each graduating senior, at a discounted rate. The school paid for them in 2020 and in 2021.

But this year, parents had to order and pay for the banners themselves, and many did not know about the change.

“It became a last minute project,” said Patterson. About 200 parents placed an order, which meant over 120 students were not going to get a banner.

The community banded together to make sure every senior was recognized: several parents made donations, covering approximately 60 banners, and a secret donor covered the cost of the rest — just to be vandalized or stolen within 24 hours of being installed.

“It was a really a group effort, which was awesome,” said Patterson. “So that made it even more disappointing...it’s just such a shame.”

An active investigation

Track 7 prints the graduation banners at cost for graduating seniors; it’d be approximately $500 to replace the 27 that were stolen. And time-wise, it was not possible to replace them all before graduation last Saturday.

The Warwick Police Department is currently investigating the event, and estimates that it occurred at some point after 10 p.m. Wednesday night. Officers canvassed the area and tried to find video footage, but none was available.

“It’s a difficult investigation just by the location... and that it happened in the overnight hours,” said Warwick Police Chief John Rader.

If anyone has any information about the stolen and vandalized banners, please call the Warwick Police Department with any tips: 845-986-3423. All tips will remain confidential.