Sunday , 25 October 2020
2020 graduation decorations at the Lloydminster Exhibition. (Lloyd Connect)

2020 graduates celebrate in a world of social distancing

Lloydminster high schools celebrate their graduates in a more intimate setting than usual.

In order to follow provincial safety guidelines, Border City school divisions held drive-thru graduations where the students were congratulated by family and school staff.

Students looking forward to graduating this year may have had more questions than answers.

Avery Outreach High School Principal, Rob Merliees, said not doing something to celebrate the grads wasn’t an option.

“It’s a big feat for a lot of these kids. They put a lot of years into graduating, and you don’t want to take that away from them. Something had to be done.”

Avery held its 2020 grad on June 22nd while the Lloydminster Comprehensive High School and Holy Rosary High School held its celebration on June 24th.

Most schools shared the same sentiment about planning for graduation, which is that it takes a lot of time and commitment.

Principal Vince Orieux of Holy Rosary High School said the process featured a few different stages.

“Initially, we were told that we couldn’t do anything but a virtual grad. So we made all the plans and preparations for that. Then as the weeks went on and different phases opened up in the province, we were given word that we could do a drive-thru with parameters. So we put a plan together and a proposal and it was accepted.”

“We feel like we did the best we could do given the circumstances,” adds Orieux.

It may not have been the graduation that students were expecting, but schools in Lloydminster did what they could to make the most out of it.

According to Principal Dwayne Marciniw of the Lloydminster Comprehensive High School, the response to their celebration was exactly what they were hoping for.

“It was absolute positivity. People were ecstatic that we provided the opportunity as a school, to do a drive-thru cap and gown celebration. Early on there was a lot of disappointment when announcements came out that graduations couldn’t happen, and gatherings needed to be less than 15. When we made this jump it was absolutely nothing but positive feedback from parents. The day couldn’t have gone better for us.”

The turnout reinforced the fact that students wanted to celebrate.

For the Lloydminster Comprehensive High School, 270 students showed up to participate out of 292 graduates.

Holy Rosary had 155 students come throughout of 164 graduates, and Avery Outreach School had 33 students attend out of 42 graduates.

The celebration didn’t stop with the drive-thru ceremonies.

Graduates from Holy Rosary and the Lloydminster Comprehensive High School participated in marches held at the Lloydminster Exhibition grounds.

Lloyd Exh decorations for 2020 grads. (Lloyd Connect)

Carly Pollard of the Lloydminster Exhibition Association said hosting the grads on their big day was a rewarding and unique experience.

“This was an opportunity for them [the students] to do anything they wanted to celebrate. It was incredible that we were able to do anything and that we could pull it off in this way.”

Thanks to some planning from the parents and the staff of the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds, things came together quickly for the grad marches.

“This was a lot of hardworking parents joining together and partnering with us to make something happen, that really gave an opportunity to the grads to celebrate in a different way than we are used to. They definitely delivered something that will be memorable.” Said, Pollard.

School divisions are unsure of what things will look like for the grads of 2021, but for the grads of 2020, they may have got a once in a lifetime experience.

About Tre Lopushinsky

Tre is the lead reporter/editor at Lloyd Connect. He is a NAIT Radio and Television alumni. Tre has experience in radio, audio production, video editing and news reporting. During his time at NAIT he worked as a sports editor for the college paper and was a commentator for NAIT Ooks Basketball and volleyball teams. Some residents may know him as being the "giant employee" in the community for the past two years. Tre, for some reason, hasn’t veered away from his childhood as he has a passion for collecting figures (not dolls!).

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