NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A group of students from Staten Island is getting the chance to meet Pope Francis when he visits New York City later this week.

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio presented students from Holy Rosary School, St. Ann School and St. Christopher School with tickets to see the pope during his Central Park procession on Friday.

EXTRA: Guide To Pope Francis’ Visit To NYC

The mayor was impressed that the Catholic school students used a cardboard cutout of the pope in class to prepare for his arrival, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa and WCBS 880’s Peter Hakell reported.

“And through the likeness, they used the opportunity to think and to teach together about Pope Francis’ extraordinary message of compassion and inclusion,” he said.

One student called getting the chance to see Francis “a once in a lifetime thing.”

“He’s such an inspiration to all of us,” she said.

The pope heads to New York City on Thursday and will attend evening prayer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The next day, he will address the United Nations General Assembly, host an interfaith service at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, visit a school in East Harlem, take a motorcade through Central Park and celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden.

On the morning of Sept. 26, he’ll leave for Philadelphia.

For a complete schedule of the pope’s upcoming visit, click here.

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