By Kate Raddatz

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A commencement ceremony went on as scheduled for graduating students of the McNally Smith College of Music despite it being closed.

The college notified students and faculty on Thursday that it would have to shut its doors because of a lack of funding.

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Students didn’t know if they’d be able to have a graduation ceremony, but teachers went the extra mile for the sake of their students.

As college seniors walked across the History Theatre Stage Saturday, they reached a milestone that just 24 hours ago, they weren’t sure would happen.

“I was worried, ‘Well, is it going to happen or not,’ a lot of us were left in limbo,’ one graduate said.

The students received shocking news Thursday, when they got an email that said the McNally Smith College of Music would be shutting down.

Faculty were informed they would no longer be paid because the college could not make payroll.

Meaning the teachers at the graduation ceremony were there simply for their students.

“This is unorthodox of me to say but if there is anybody who is a billionaire out there who could help us, pass the word please,” one teacher said.

But the laughter was mixed with tears. Many of the students have friends in the school who will need to find education elsewhere.

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“It’s been happy, sad, angry, a mix of emotions. Basically everybody has been coming together and just stressing the community part,” graduate Cortez Owens said.

As parents beamed with pride, they were also angry.

“There was no notice. There was no word. About asking for money, I had no idea this school needed money,” one parent said.

School administrators said the college had been in the process of pursuing a nonprofit status before it had to close

These graduates say they will look back with fond memories.

“We still have each other,” one graduate said. “We still have each other and hopefully we’ll be fine.”

The McNally Smith College of Music has around 600 students and 100 faculty members.

Nearly 40 students are graduating during this final semester.

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Kate Raddatz