Red Deer public and Catholic schools are postponing graduation ceremonies for hundreds of students because of the pandemic.
The cap-and-gown milestone in a young adult’s life will have to happen later, both school districts said in a release Thursday.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are disappointed that graduation ceremonies … will be postponed until further notice.
“This decision was difficult and is based on the Alberta government’s restrictions on gatherings to comply with social distancing,” they say.
Haylee Coutts, a Grade 12 student at Lindsay Thurber High School, said COVID-19 “has taken over our final year. As each of us entered Grade 12, we expect senior year to be the best year yet.”
For students who have been looking forward to graduation, she added, this is a hard outcome.
“Although we know this is out of our control, we are disappointed. Without graduation, we will not have a proper way to say ‘congratulations, goodbye and thank you’ to our classmates or teachers.
“A piece of the puzzle is missing in our lives.”
Public school superintendent Stu Henry said he recognizes that graduation is not only meaningful for students, as a celebration of achievement, but for their families and friends as well.
“Graduation is … the start of the next chapter in their lives. We know our students will move on to do great things, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours,” said Henry.
Kathleen Finnigan, interim superintendent for Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, said she will miss joining a community celebration for Grade 12 students.
“We are extremely proud of their accomplishments, spiritually, academically and emotionally, throughout their entire educational career from pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 … (and) look forward with excitement to see how these young adults will impact the world as our future leaders.”
High school officials expressed their disappointment.
Christine Chappell, vice-principal at Hunting Hills High School, said, “We are looking at what we can do to recognize this great achievement by our students, while following guidelines set out by the Alberta government.”
High schools will “begin looking for creative ways to honour our Grade 12 students’ hard work and accomplishments,” said principal Rose McQuay at Notre Dame High School.