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Ecole Plamondon grads wave goodbye: grad dates set

Schools across the region plan for upcoming convocations


Graduating students at Ecole Plamondon will still have a graduation ceremony despite their school being closed after a massive flood in April. The 22 students in the school’s Grade 12 graduating classes have been learning in temporary classrooms at Lac La Biche’s Portage College while repairs continue at their own school. 

It’s estimated that repair costs will top at least $2.5 million. 

Lisa Mahaden, an administrative assistant at Ecole Plamondon, said the school's graduation ceremony will continue as planned on Friday, June 28, with students, family and community members invited to Plamondon’s Festival Centre for the celebration. 

While the flood and closure of the school are still difficult to comprehend, she said it won’t put a damper on the celebration for the graduating students.  

“We are still going ahead with our original plan,” she said. When asked if not having a school building to use this year has created any challenges for school officials with regards to planning the graduation ceremony, Mahaden said in some ways it has, while in others in hasn’t. “’s really just a location at this point.” 

This year’s events, Mahaden explained, will include the traditional graduation ceremony and a march, along with a banquet, presentations, speeches by the valedictorian and visiting dignitaries, as well as an awards celebration. During the festivities, she added, students usually go outside to have photos taken and throw their hats into the air before going back into the Festival Centre to be introduced to the audience with their escorts-people who have accompanied them for the ceremonies.  

From opening march to supper, the Ecole Plamondon grad ceremony lasts about five hours.  

The formal process will be a little shorter for the 95 graduates and their guests at the J. A. Williams (JAWS) High School convocation ceremony on Saturday, June 22. This year’s grad class also includes students from the Lac La Biche Outreach program. 

Kim Nashim, the assistant principal at JAWS, says this year’s events include a vehicle parade along Beaver Hill Road and 91 Avenue that kicks off at noon, followed by a graduation ceremony at 1:30 p.m. inside the Bold Centre. The vehicle parade is a relatively new feature of the graduation ceremony, added during the COVID-19 pandemic as an alternative to the formal, sit-down ceremony that was affected by pandemic restrictions. While the formal ceremony is back, it has been scaled back, says Nashim. 

Due to time constraints, speeches will be kept to a minimum.  

“We don’t have a lot of speeches because it does take a while to get through all of the students,” she said.  

One of the customary speeches will be given by this year’s Honourary Grad. As Nashim explains, an honourary grad is an adult who has been with a student graduate on their educational journey who has been nominated by that student. They also receive a cap and gown during the ceremony. The name of the honourary grad selected for the 2024 Grad Class hasn’t been released yet.  

The selection of the valedictorian for the Class of 2024 won’t finalized until about a week prior to the ceremony. The reason for doing this, Nashim said, is because the school wants to get marks as accurate as possible, as it is the student with the highest average overall who becomes that year’s valedictorian.  

When it comes to seating, she said, all grads get six reserved seats around the stage.  

In the early evening, there will be a supper, followed by a grand march. The day of celebration concludes with a dance for the graduates.  

“It’s going to look similar to last year for the ceremony,” Nashim told Lakeland This Week.  

June 1 at Beausejour 

While many schools are holding their grad ceremonies later in June, the nine graduates from Ecole Beausejour in Plamondon will be donning their caps and gowns on Saturday, June 1. Sherry Chevigny, an administrative assistant at the Francophone school in Plamondon said this date is the best time to have the graduation ceremony.  

“They’re doing it the beginning of June because it doesn’t interfere with their diploma exam schedule,” she said.  

The graduation ceremony for the Ecole Beausejour class of 2024 gets underway at 3:30 p.m. with a mass at St. Isadore’s Roman Catholic Church in Plamondon. At 6 p.m., there is a supper, which is followed by the official ceremony. These events will be held at the Plamondon Festival Centre.  

“This is basically how we usually do our ceremony,” she said, adding that the whole ceremony is conducted in the French language.  

Chevigny explained that the graduates do all the planning that goes into the ceremony, including buying decorations and arranging for catering. They do this, she added, with the help of family and school officials.   

This ceremony, she continued, is something the graduates really look forward to. 

“They are very excited about it,” she said.  

Carmen Semeniuk, principal of Light of Christ Catholic School in Lac La Biche, said the school’s graduation will take place on Friday, June 7.  

This year, the small Catholic school will have two Grade 12 grads. 

The graduation starts with a mass at St. Catherine’s Church at 3 p.m., which will be followed by a ceremony at the school at 4:30 p.m.  

Graduating from Grade 6 

Three Ecole Sainte Catherine francophone students will be graduating from the school’s top-level Grade 6 class this year, ready to continue a path to matriculation at Ecole Beausejour, the K-12 francophone school in Plamondon.  

Mamoudou Ndongo, the principal of Ecole Sainte-Catherine said staff at K-6 school the Francophone school will likely have five or six activities, including French presentations, music, as well as a dinner for the young graduates. 

At Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s Amisk School, Principal Elaine Boucher says eight Beaver Lake students are graduating from J.A. Williams High School this year. She also said Amisk School offers a cyber class consisting of Grade 11 and 12 students, with some taking their lessons in the classroom and others doing everything online. Boucher said there are no graduates coming out of that program this year, but there will be next year.  



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