Some of the St. Augustine graduates posed for this photo before schools were closed in March and will now have to wait until the fall for their long-awaited ceremony. Photo submitted Some of the St. Augustine graduates posed for this photo before schools were closed in March and will now have to wait until the fall for their long-awaited ceremony. Photo submitted

Ponoka graduates must wait for ceremonies

The disruption of COVID-19 is hitting Ponoka’s Grade 12 students, postponing their graduation ceremonies until this fall at the earliest.

Grads at St. Augustine School have a tentative date of Sept. 26 for their commencement event and banquet, while a ceremony for Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) is yet to be determined. Ponoka’s BRICK Learning centre graduation has also been cancelled.

“We understand that graduation is an important time for students and families and that it truly marks a significant milestone in their education and their lives. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on public gatherings that Alberta Health has extended to the end of August, graduation ceremonies and school farewell events as they are traditionally held across Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) have been forced to be cancelled,” said WCPS superintendent Jayson Lovell in a provided statement.

“In rescheduling farewell/graduation ceremonies, all Wolf Creek schools will follow the lead and guidance of Alberta Health based on when it is safe to proceed. These decisions are not easy ones, but are made to ensure that all our students, families, staff and community remains safe.”

PSC principal Kathy McTaggert is currently reaching out to graduates and their families to gauge interest in either a virtual graduation or postponing the entire ceremony until the next school year.

According to WCPS communications coordinator Vince Burke, the feedback from that outreach will determine which direction the school will go.

As for St. Augustine, acting principal Kari Davidson explained the decision to reschedule the ceremony, mass and banquet was made so the grads can be appropriately acknowledged for their accomplishment. Grad photos are also in the process of being rescheduled.

“Our graduates are deeply important to us and acknowledging this accomplishment is a priority,” Davidson said in an email.

“We will add the Grade 12 awards to our commencement ceremony, acknowledging the fact that many of our graduates may find it difficult to return home for two fall events when away for post-secondary studies.”

For now though, the school has gone online to recognize its grads — via its website and Facebook and Instagram accounts — with the slide show that is normally shown at the banquet and has posted the message and prayer meant for the students as well.

Clarification: WCPS has since stated that the BRICK Learning Centre graduation has been postponed until the fall and the school is in the process of organizing the details.

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