It has been a week and a half since the Alberta government shut down schools K-12, daycares and post-secondary institutions because of COVID-19 concerns. For many this initially seemed like a bonus spring break, but for most grade 12 students across the province this unprecedented move set them on edge.
With their grade 12 year being far more unpredictable than what they hoped, some Wetaskiwin Composite High School students are trying to put the pieces of their senior year back together and readjust to their new circumstances.
“It was scary, and I didn’t believe it at first,” said Grace Bredlow, in regards to the screeching halt her senior year came to on Mar. 15.
Living in and going to school in a small community, some of the class of 2020, like Keogan Blouin thought what was happening in the big cities wouldn’t happen to them. “It kind of felt surreal,” said Blouin.
At first the students’ main concern was the impact this change would have on their grades and how that would affect their acceptances into post-secondary education.
“I was worried about how it would affect my grades,” Jacob Johnston said. Keeping up his grades is important to Johnston as he has been accepted into the University of Calgary for next year for a combined degree of Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science.
On Mar. 20 these WCHS grads and the rest of the province found out that the grade 12 diploma exams would be cancelled. While it came as a relief, there is still an underlying uncertainty on how this will impact their post-secondary acceptance. Bredlow who has been accepted into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Red Deer College is worried about the College reassessing acceptance grade point averages with the absence of diploma exams.
Blouin is adjusting to her new normal when it comes to transferring to a home school format for her classes. Currently in three science courses, she is trying her best to stay positive during this transition. Luckily she finds comfort in her educators. “I have a lot of faith in my teachers,” Blouin said.
Another main concern for these grads: their friends. For some of their classmates these last few months of high school were the last opportunity they would have to see each other every day. With Johnston, Blouin and Bredlow leaving the community after graduation for school, it is disappointing to spend these remaining months isolated from their friends.
However, the main disappointment that COVID-19 isolation has brought is news of their graduation celebrations.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for 18 years,” Bredlow said. With little chance that WCHS’s graduation scheduled for May 22, 2020 will happen as planned, the graduates are hoping their grad ceremony and celebrations will simply be postponed instead of cancelled.
In 2016, Fort McMurray’s high school graduates celebrated graduation in August due to the wild fires that forced a postponement. Wetaskiwin’s grads hope something similar will be arranged.
Blouin says that her and her friends are “trying to keep it positive around here.” However, “there has definitely been a lot of tears, lots of girls with grad dresses,” she says.
Blouin herself just had to go pick up her own grad dress from the bridal shop it was ordered from; collecting it before the shop closed down beacause of coronavirus.
Bredlow’s appointments for grad that she had made to help her feel gorgeous on the day she had dreamed about for so long were cancelled, and her nearly $800 dress left unworn with no set date in sight.
For these graduates their final year has been thrown into disarray. However, Blouin says, “you can’t be too upset about it when there is nothing to do about it.”
A strong sentiment to hold onto in these uncertain times.