North Vancouver school turns graduation ceremony virtual
NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Graduating high school is a major milestone for teenagers and their families – but the global pandemic has meant many of the big moments of celebration are not happening, including the graduation ceremony.
One school in North Vancouver is recreating it – virtually.
On a sunny Wednesday in May, students of Carson Graham Secondary arrived one-by-one at the Gordon Smith Gallery. They were told to dress like they would for a regular grad ceremony.
In alphabetical order, the students filed into the building, picked up their cap and gown and walked into the auditorium.
This would be the moment they received their diploma, but physical distancing measures meant no family members could be inside with them.
“We’ve tried to make it as much like a grad ceremony as we can,” principal Suzette Dohm said. “We have made schedules of all the kids, we have received their last words that are read out as they walk across the stage, and then we have a stage in there and they have a chance to get their diploma.”
There’s also a picture taken with the principal, who was standing two metres behind.
The setup was better than Max Faber expected. “It was honestly better than I thought, they did a really good job and it seemed pretty professional and they took a bunch of photos," Faber said. "I mean, it felt like a real grad almost.”
Kaia Crozier felt the same: “I had kind of lower expectations going into this obviously because of the pandemic, but it was still really nice, it felt like a graduation celebration.”
Of course, there was still a key element missing. “I kind of miss that we didn’t get to experience all of our loved ones seeing us walk across the stage," Crozier said.
That experience will come later. The whole process was filmed by production company GradsBC, and families will the see the completed video in late June.
“We want to make it special, just because of the situation, so they’re able to watch these videos with their parents at home,” said Joy Unaegbu with the company.
Walking across the stage in front of your peers, family and teachers to accept your high school diploma is a rite of passage and given the global pandemic, many schools won’t be getting a grad ceremony at all.
Those at Carson Graham were making the most of the opportunity.
Alfred Jacobs is from the Squamish First Nation and chose to wear his regalia, instead of a gown.
“I’m excited that I finally get to graduate - not the way I ever intended to - but it’s better than nothing, I suppose,” he said.
His mother, Julie Peters, stood with him outside and helped to put on a woven headband, made by her mother.
“We’re really happy that this is happening, I’m almost ready to cry," she said.
That emotion was also shared by Heidi Degenstein. Her son Marcus is graduating, just without all the big celebrations.
“There’s a sense of you try even harder to make it even bigger, I’m wondering if I feel more disappointed than they do,” she said.
And although it’s not the way they were expecting to end their high school experience, Kaylee Charland said there is an upside.
“Instead of like the shaky videos we’ll get, we’ll get a high quality video we can look at," she said.
While Faber said he was a little frustrated by the way their school year ended, he expects to look back on the unique experience they shared with fondness.
"I feel in like a couple years, maybe 20 years, we’re going to come back and we’re going to talk about this, there’s going to be great memories," he said.
As Kaia Crozier said, “2020 grad… we got through it.”
Check out more of CTV News Vancouver's Class of 2020 series online, and all week on CTV Morning Live and CTV News at Six.