Many schools across the province are waiting to hear what is going to be done for graduation. In Moosomin the plan right now is for a grad parade rather than a traditional grad ceremony.
In 2020, schools across Saskatchewan had to get creative with graduation celebrations. Some schools held reverse parades where parents and family members would drive by the graduates who were set up on the side of the road.
Other schools, including McNaughton High School in Moosomin, had the graduating students loaded up onto flat-deck trailers in their graduation outfits and paraded around town.
While 2020’s graduation ceremonies may have been unique, many teachers and staff hoped for a return to normal graduation ceremonies for 2021.
But that may not be the case.
Due to the COVID-19 variants affecting larger centres of Saskatchewan, hope is dwindling for a back-to-normal graduation.
Margie Gibson is helping organize the McNaughton High School 2021’s graduation ceremonies, says that they are currently waiting for direction before making a decision.
“We don’t have any direction as of yet from Public Health or the school division. We hope that we can have something for the kids to celebrate their success but as far as any firmer plans, we don’t know anything. Especially not with the variant in the area. We haven’t made any solid plans as of yet,” Gibson said.
“I know the parents are hoping to plan a parade, they have got the ball rolling from what I understand, so they’re hoping to be able to do the parade because we won’t be able to have anyone other than students, as we have a large grad class, we won’t be able to have anyone present if we did have a ceremony.”
But for now, Gibson says they are just waiting for instruction before making any plans.
“We hope for the best but we can’t make any firm plans until we get direction from the school division, which they get from Public Health.”
Members of the Parents Committee are planning on holding a parade if regular ceremonies cannot be held.
Verna Cherry, a member of the Parents Committee, says they are hoping to hold a parade similar to what they did last year.
“We’re just following in last year’s footsteps, just to give the kids something of a celebration because of the COVID rules. We’re just trying to organize a parade and invite the community and if there are community businesses that want to be part of the parade as well but the focus will be on the grads and just give them a bit of a chance to celebrate and show off their fancy outfits for the day and just make it a community event,” Cherry said.
She adds that this year they plan to allow local organizations to take part in the parade as well, but will keep the focus on the graduating students.
“It was kind of a last-minute thing because it was back when they were trying to figure everything out about what to do and how to celebrate so we organized flat-bed trucks and trailers and organized a parade route and just toured around town so everybody can at least see them because they couldn’t have a ceremony.
“We have 52 grads so we have a fairly big grad class, so we’re just wanting to make sure everybody has a mode of transportation to get them around, and then we’re going to invite community members to throw in a float too if they want just to share in the excitement of the graduation.”
She says that because the organizers have more time to prepare, they plan to fix a few issues the parade ran into last year.
One such issue being the identification of the graduates. Because of the distance from the floats with the grads, friends and family noted difficulty in identifying the graduates. But even with that minor issue, Cherry notes that the community enjoyed the parade as it allowed for the entire community to see the graduates at a safe social distance.
“Everybody was quite excited to be able to see it. The community wants to participate and see the grads. People like your grandmas, your grandpas, your aunts, or even just somebody that babysat you years ago, but you can’t get everybody into a grad ceremony. This way the whole community can partake and see the grads, so we’re just trying to build on that.
“The one thing that was from last year that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but people were wondering who the grads were by the time they passed. I’ve been talking to Kevin at the World-Spectator to see if we can do banners to put the grad’s names on the floats so they can identify who they are. But from there, we’re just trying to do the same thing but expand and invite the community and get as many people involved as we can but putting the focus on the grads.”
Grade 12 student Cassidy Griemann says the graduating students were given an option regarding graduation. They could either have the graduates with their parents and maintain social distance, or have just the students who are all part of the same cohort.
Griemann says that while things are not yet chosen for certain due to the ever-changing guidelines, the graduating class would like to celebrate together.
“We were given the option, either we will have a grad where it will just be the graduates and the parents or we would have just all the graduates and, because we aren’t allowed any extracurricular activities, grad would have to be during school hours if we were going to do it. So my class voted that if we were to have a digital grad we would want to be there together and then just have a video for our parents,” said Griemann.
“Nothing’s really been set in stone yet, but that’s what we’re leaning towards. But with everything changing we aren’t sure if we can even be in school because we just found out we’re going online.”
She says that the option of the parade is something they are looking forward to as well.
“Lots of people wanted a parade because it was really nice last year. So that’s something that we might go for again this year hopefully. There was a meeting for some parents to get the ball rolling on it, but I think it will be good.
“I like the parade a little more. The way our grad works is you get a set amount of tickets like my sister could only invite seven people to her grad, so for lots of people, it is hard to pick who the seven lucky people who get to come to grad are. But the parade is bigger and the whole town gets involved rather than just the graduate’s family and the people the graduate picks. I like that idea because you can have more people.”
Other graduating students are looking at the positive side of COVID graduation.
Grade 12 student Emily Mannle says that while the restrictions can be frustrating, the students are doing their best to stay positive.
Mannle plans to attend the Univerisity of Saskatchewan for four years of arts and science followed by three years of law.
“It’s definitely a bummer, 100 per cent. Lots of us are a little bit upset about it, our parents can’t even watch us receive our diplomas. But we’re trying to make the best out of it, trying to stay positive. We are just trying to look at the pros of COVID grad and looking at what previous years didn’t get because of COVID. We are getting a video made of our grad ceremony and we are getting a USB or a CD of it, which previous years didn’t get. So we have that to look back at in the following years to watch.
“It’s definitely been hectic, especially when all the guidelines change every couple weeks and having to change what our grad is going to look like but we’re trying to stay positive and make the best of it.”
She says the parade is something that many students are looking forward to.
“It’s really awesome actually. I was at the parents committee meeting with a few other students and it’s something I’m really excited about. Just to be able to bring the community together and asking all the businesses to put a float in if they want is super exciting. We’re not just going to be riding on flat decks, we’ll have people on horses or golf carts or in the back of people’s trucks. It’s going to be super fun and I’m really excited for the whole community to come together and watch that big day with us. It’s going to be super fun.”
Other students like Kaymenn Fawcett echoed the same feelings. While many students are disappointed that they cannot have their family attend the ceremony, they are looking forward to their unique graduation.
“It’s definitely hard for us to wrap our minds around what is going on right now and it’s really tough for us to not be able to have our parents watch us walk down and across the stage and be there with all our friends. But this year we chose to do it with our friends. We’re hoping we can do our ceremony in the gym and each class can be set up on the different sides to maintain a social distance, but if we end up doing that then that means we can’t have our family there. So that will suck but it is what it is this year,” said Fawcett.
Fawcett, who has been accepted into the University of Regina for education, says the parade is something unique that the students are looking forward to.
“I for sure think it’s great. I think the parade is a really good way to get our community involved because they’ve watched us grow up since the day we were born. If we were to have our typical grad in the Communiplex we could only have eight to ten people each. But this way the entire community can come out and they can see our dresses and they can see our suits and I think it’s a really great way for the entire community to be involved with us with grad.”
Fawcett says she is looking forward to taking part in the parade.
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator