Grade 12 students in Regina hold out hope for in-person grad ceremonies

·3 min read
Starting June 20, indoor graduation ceremonies of up to 150 people will be allowed in Saskatchewan.  (Mike Blake/Reuters - image credit)
Starting June 20, indoor graduation ceremonies of up to 150 people will be allowed in Saskatchewan. (Mike Blake/Reuters - image credit)

Plans for graduation ceremonies at Regina high schools are still to be decided, causing frustration for some Grade 12 students.

Neither the Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) nor Regina Public Schools (RPS) has fully committed to holding events in person versus virtually, although RPS has booked Mosaic Stadium during the fourth week in June for potential cap and gown ceremonies.

"As of right now, my understanding is that the limit is 150 people. This number would not allow us to proceed with this event," Terry Lazarou, a spokesperson for RPS, wrote in an email to CBC.

"I do know that there are discussions underway about this plan. We are also working on an alternative plan if we cannot proceed with grad ceremonies at Mosaic Stadium."

That uncertainty is frustrating for Annika Danielson, who's set to graduate from Sheldon-Williams Collegiate this year.

"I feel like we're being left with very little instruction right now as to what to do and how to prepare ourselves," she said.

Annika Danielson says that it's frustrating not knowing what will happen.
Annika Danielson says that it's frustrating not knowing what will happen. (Submitted by Annika Danielson)

Grade 12 students have been ready to be done for months, particularly in a year where all their usual final year traditions have been abandoned, she said.

"I think having that final celebration where we can come together in whatever way we can would just be wonderful, because I haven't seen some of my classmates in months."

Schools in the local Catholic division are making individual plans. The division will also be holding a graduation mass that will be livestreamed and graduation exercises will be shared via video.

Danica Giambattista, who attends Michael A. Riffel Catholic High School, has been among the RCSD students pushing for an in-person graduation.

She said students were told in mid-April that graduation ceremonies would be held virtually, so she was relieved to hear that there was still a chance to attend an in-person ceremony.

Danica Giambattista is proud of her efforts advocating for an in-person celebration.
Danica Giambattista is proud of her efforts advocating for an in-person celebration. (Submitted by Danica Giambattista)

According to Giambattista, her school is splitting the graduating class into two groups. One will walk across the stage and take pictures in the morning and the second group will do the same in the afternoon.

"I've been home-schooled since September, so I haven't seen my friends since then and that's been really tough. So just to be together, even if it's not all of us, just one last time... Honestly I couldn't have asked for anything better," she said.

Giambattista said she had a call with the school's superintendent, who told her that the Catholic division hadn't booked Mosaic Stadium because the division didn't want to get students' hopes up and have to cancel last minute. Now, knowing that an in-person graduation could be in the works, she feels her advocacy has paid off.

"It might sound a little egotistical, but I'm very proud of my efforts. I know I put so much time and energy into this, and a lot of my fellow classmates have as well," she said.

"Four years of high school may not seem like a lot, but it is a lot. So I'm honestly looking forward to graduating with my friends and we can stand by each other and say, you know, we did it. We fought for what we wanted and they listened to us."

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