Summerland Secondary School principal Alan Stel presented high school diplomas during a series of small ceremonies. A full video of the graduation events will be available on the Summerland Review website on June 26 in the evening. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Summerland Secondary School principal Alan Stel presented high school diplomas during a series of small ceremonies. A full video of the graduation events will be available on the Summerland Review website on June 26 in the evening. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

COLUMN: Graduation during the time of COVID-19

This year, the traditional graduation ceremonies could not proceed

Graduation day is a milestone celebration for Grade 12 students.

It marks the completion of high school and more importantly, it is a rite of passage into the world of adulthood.

The formal ceremonies and the celebrations afterwards recognize this transition and honour the graduates.

It’s a significant achievement and as a result, it calls for a special time of celebration.

This year has been different.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional events could not proceed, but the students’ accomplishments still deserved to be recognized.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Summerland graduates receive diplomas

READ ALSO: Summerland school to present video of graduation ceremonies

Teachers at Summerland Secondary School and a committee of parents stepped up to make graduation as special and memorable as possible, despite the COVID-19 directives and limitations.

Gatherings of more than 50 are prohibited at present. This presents a challenge when the school has around 110 graduating students, and when each of those students have family members and friends who want to be present for the formal ceremony.

There was no way to hold a traditional graduation and still comply with the limitations on crowd sizes and the physical distancing directives.

Rather than trying to fight and petition to have an exception, the organizers of this year’s graduation chose to work within the parameters, even though this meant completely restructuring the ceremonies.

By doing so, they have demonstrated they were willing to try something new. They have also shown they were willing to make great efforts for the graduating students.

Graduation this year was not the same as in previous years.

In the past, it would be a large event at the arena, but this year, the ceremonies were held in the high school gym, with groups of seven students receiving their diplomas in a series of mini-ceremonies.

The complete graduation events, including the presentation of diplomas, the valedictorians’ speeches and the presentation of awards and bursaries, will be online on the evening of June 26. Visit summerlandreview.com to view the complete video.

The class picture of the graduates also had to be set up differently from in previous years.

Instead of having all the students together at once for this picture, groups of students were photographed and the images were later merged together.

In short, every effort was made to give these graduating students the best possible send-off, under extremely challenging circumstances.

I was at the school to see some of the mini-ceremonies, and I have been talking with teachers and members of a parents’ committee about this year’s graduation events.

It has been inspiring to see what they were able to do within the limitations they had to face. The mini-ceremonies offered a warm and intimate atmosphere.

Setting up this year’s graduation ceremonies has been difficult. The entire concept has had to be reworked and restructured for this year.

In the future, the graduates of 2020 will remember a graduation experience unlike that of previous classes.

They will remember the small ceremonies and physical distancing requirements during this pandemic.

They will remember the unique challenges of taking the class picture.

And most of all, they will remember the significant efforts that were made in order to give them a memorable graduation and rite of passage during a time when previous traditions could not be maintained.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusGraduation 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

West Kelowna City Hall on Cameron Road. (File photo)
Rose Valley water treatment facility to cost less than planned

The contract of $45.1 million was awarded to developer Maple Reinders Constructors Ltd .

A $3,000 donation from the Gary Bennett Family Fund will go towards baby products for families in need. (Central Okanagan Food Bank)
Okanagan charity donates $3,000 to support young families

The Gary Bennett Family Fund donated to Central Okanagan Food Bank

Project rendering of Hadgraft Wilson Place (CNW Group/Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
68-unit affordable housing complex coming downtown Kelowna

The six-storey complex located on Fuller Ave is set to be completed by fall 2022

Accelerate Okanagan has announced the six finalists for the 2021 OKGN Angel Summit. The remaining entrepreneurs will compete for a chance to receive a $145,000 investment in their business. (Eryca Stirling photo)
Finalists named for Okanagan entrepreneur summit

Accelerate Okanagan has named the final six competing entrepreneurs in the OKGN Angel Summit

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Students from Summerland’s Okanagan College often posed for photographs on the Big Rock. The rock was on the northern slope of Giant’s Head Mountain. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Big Rock had been desposited during last ice age

Rock was once a prominent feature on Giant’s Head Mountain

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

Most Read