Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School in Kitimat B.C. (Gerry Leibel/Black Press Media)

Cameras and convoys: Graduation in the age of COVID-19

Schools in Terrace and Kitimat are thinking outside the box to give students a graduation ceremony

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have put an end to traditional graduation ceremonies, it hasn’t stopped schools in the Coast Mountains School District 82 from thinking outside the box.

Secondary schools in District 82 have the freedom to plan their own substitute for traditional ceremonies.

“Our secondary schools will be planning their graduation festivities on a school by school basis, we will not be mandating a certain format of their graduation ceremonies,” said Janet Meyer, superintendent of School District 82. “They will all be recognizing Dr. Bonnie Henry’s requirements for social distancing for safety purposes.”

Caledonia Secondary School in Terrace is planning a video compilation to be aired on television and online.

Small groups of students will pick up gowns from the school. On June 5, the groups will be filmed running through a typical grad exchange while following physical distancing protocols. Speeches that would have taken place during the ceremony will be filmed beforehand.

“CityWest is putting together a broadcast for us,” said Robin MacLeod, vice principal of Caledonia Secondary. “The idea is to broadcast it when grad actually would have been happening.”

On May 11, Terrace city council approved a plan to place around 150 election-style signs along the Grand Trunk pathway. Each sign would feature a photo of a graduate and remain in place from June 15-21.

“I’m sure most grads in the province are disapointed that things can’t be whatever the tradition is in that community but none of us can predict the future, so we felt we’d like to do something this June in some way to commemorate the kids,” said MacLeod.

READ MORE: COVID-19: B.C. universities opt out of in-person spring graduation ceremonies

Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary school in Kitimat is also doing a virtual graduation with CityWest. Students will be filmed walking across the stage at the school’s theatre and broadcast at a later date for the community to view.

“Walking across the stage is a huge part of our ceremony, crossing the stage with dignity and purpose, so we always want that opportunity for students,” said Christine Byrd, principal of Mount Elizabeth.

“Really trying to make it personable and meaningful is not just a personal mission of mine but obviously a professional one.”

The Mount Elizabeth parent grad committee is hosting a parade scheduled for June 19, where graduates will drive around Kitimat in a convoy. Large photos of the grads will be displayed in front of their houses, and community members can come out onto their yards and cheer them on.


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