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NLPS, LCSD grad ceremonies postponed

Some of the local school divisions have made the decision to postpone their graduation ceremonies to the fall due to the restrictions on large group gatherings. File photo.

BONNYVILLE – Students will have to hold off on formally celebrating the end of their high school careers, but local school divisions are doing what they can to ensure the occasion is still marked.

After holding discussions with school principals, Northern Lights Public Schools (NLPS) superintendent Rick Cusson said the decision was made to postpone graduations until the fall.

“We will have to reassess if things haven’t been relaxed in the fall for what the size of gatherings might look like and we will have to reassess at that point,” he explained to the board of trustees during their April 22 meeting. “But, at this point, we’re not prepared to cancel or fully cancel graduations as a system.”

The Lakeland Catholic School Division (LCSD) previously made the decision during their April 14 board meeting, when trustees voted in favour of postponing graduations until the fall.

According to Cusson, NLPS is aiming to have the ceremonies happen no later than Nov. 14 to coincide with the fall break for post-secondary institutions. However, the division realizes the decision means there could be less graduates able to attend.

“We know we’re potentially opening ourselves up to a situation where not all of our students would return for graduation as some may be away at post-secondary, some may be gainfully employed in the fall, and have other commitments,” Cusson detailed. “So each school will be preparing some kind of online recognition of success or electronic recognition of success. They’re going to be working with their kids to figure out what that looks like, whether it’s a slide show that’s sent to the kids, a combination or pictures or activities, video messages, those types of things because we would still like to recognize or let the kids have the opportunity to have some type of recognition or celebration if they’re not available to attend the ceremony in the fall.”

That was an important aspect for board chair Arlene Hrynyk.

“We’ve seen different concerns across the province, different decisions that boards are making, and how important it is to those students to actually have that celebration. I really appreciate that’s not forgotten,” she expressed.

Filling parents and grads in on their plan is something Cusson highlighted, because they “have been putting in a large amount of planning hours for banquets, celebrations, and those types of things.”

“It’s important that we communicate that to them in a timely fashion,” he continued. “For some of those groups that may have fundraised dollars for graduation banquets, meals, and those types of things, don’t necessarily go out and spend them. Don’t donate them to other costs or what not without knowing that we would like to celebrate their child’s success.”

Like NLPS, each facility within the catholic division is brainstorming ways of honouring seniors.

“Our schools are planning creative ways to celebrate and recognize our graduating classes of 2020 to acknowledge this milestone in our students’ and families’ lives,” Guilbault said. “Administration from each school will connect with parents, students, and the 2020 graduation committees as information is available. While our celebrations and graduations may look slightly different than what was originally planned, we look forward to celebrating the class of 2020 when it’s safe to do so.”

École des Beaux-Lacs declined to comment on their graduation, as they're still in discussions with students and parents to determine what their next steps will be.

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle


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