It is an event that all the parents and students look forward to. Committees are formed to organize it, fundraisers are held to support it and months before it happens, dresses and suits are bought, limos are rented, themes chosen and printing presses go on overdrive to produce hundreds of thousands of yearbooks. Tears, photos, goodbyes, flowers, dances, emotional videos, speeches, awards…the list of the rituals and traditions a graduation can encompass.is endless.
Only this year, a certain virus crashed the party! Literally! Although this year’s graduation ceremonies where been officially cancelled, with officials saying the events would have defied provincial health orders prohibiting large gatherings, some schools found creative ways of giving their 6th grade grads those special moments, albeit modified, in 3 North Shore elementary schools from the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board.
Pierre Elliot Trudeau Elementary
On Friday June 19th the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School in Blainville graduating class of 2020 were able to take part in a drive-up ceremony. There were tents and tables set up along the bus lane. The children drove up to the front of the school one by one with their parents where they were met by their teachers. They received their diplomas, had a few pictures taken, signed the grad mural and picked up their yearbooks and a treat all while proper social distancing. They hopped back into their cars with big smiles and seemed very proud of their accomplishment of completing another chapter in their scholastic lives. They drove away to the many cheers and applause of the enthusiastic staff.
The grads were able to return to school on Tuesday June 23rd in small clusters to watch a grad video that was made for them and finding some sort of closure while signing each other’s yearbook. It wasn’t the end of year celebration that was expected but this will certainly go down as one of the most anticipated graduations ever. The staff worked hard to make the best of a less than perfect situation and it was greatly appreciated by everyone.
In the region of Two Mountains, NSN reached out to the St-Jude Grad Committee which was instrumental in organizing this special grad. On June 18th, the St-Jude staff and community came together to celebrate their 33 graduates with an outdoor ceremony. The Grad Committee worked hard to come up with an innovative way to give them a celebration which included as many traditional components of this rite of passage, while respecting the restrictions of the new reality.
The plan was set: eight students arrived at a time and were welcomed to walk beneath the balloon arches while their families watched and cheered from their vehicles. Speeches were heard, each graduate was presented with their diploma, Laurier Gala winners were honoured, and numerous students were awarded with special bursaries highlighting their strengths, their contribution to our school community, and their personal growth. The students were surprised with personalized tumblers filled with candy, 2020 keychains, and a USB key containing 7 years of memories from their time at St-Jude.
When all four groups had completed their mini-ceremonies, the students were invited back and treated to a final farewell in the school yard. They toasted to their accomplishments and their futures, and then had the opportunity to sign autograph books prepared for them by the committee. Although physically distanced, it was important for them to have a last chance to be together. The St-Jude staff were thankful for the opportunity, whether in person or via Zoom, to
send the graduates off in a manner fitting this momentous occasion.
In Rosemère, McCaig hosted a drive-thru on June 22nd June 23rd to accommodate a total of 4 graduating classes. Students and family participated by appointment and had to stay in their car (except for the photo booth) and staff had to respect social distancing and all safety measures.
The event was hosted outside in front of the school with 4 stations planned:
In station 1 students received their diplomas, medals, awards and star from both school administrators (Mr. Mason, Principal and Mrs. Gauthier, VP). They remained in their car for this station.
In station 2 parents parked their cars. Students and their family got their picture taken
In station 3 McCaig staff (teachers, secretaries, attendants, day care staff, lunch supervisor) were there to cheer and congratulate each student while respecting social distancing. Parents and students stayed in their cars.
Finally, in station 4 students received small gifts from their teachers.
Half way through the event on Tuesday night stations 1 and 2 were destroyed, because of a rainstorm. One of the props destroyed was a rainbow arc. What an amazing sight and what a hopeful sign for the future it was when nature rewarded the students with a real rainbow to replace the rainbow arc after the rainstorm.
An ode to Grad committees
A lot of different parents band together to help their school during the year. A grad committee’s work, however, is unique. Parents who volunteer in it don’t only deal with day to day difficulties of an organization of this magnitude, but also have to keep bitter-sweet emotions in check to do it. After all they are, in essence, preparing one big tearful goodbye. Not only for their own graduating kids but for all the other parents’ grads. Their work represents the entire school and the execution of their event has to succeed in taking everyone in a memory trip of entire childhoods in the case of elementary schools. If there is one strong memory these 6th graders will retain from elementary school, it will be the one of their grads.
As these children leave those beautiful schools, they are energized by the passion of their amazing teachers, their principal and of course their parents. These dedicated adults prepared them well and developed their gifts to help make positive changes in this world.
In true maritime tradition North Shore News wishes them all: clear horizons!