Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) 2020 grads received their overdue accolades on Friday, Oct. 9, with a special drive-up grad ceremony, held in lieu of a regular ceremony that would have taken place in June.
The theme was “Dirt and Diamonds — The Best is Yet to Come.”
Groups of four students, physically distanced, made their way across the stage in the school’s parking lot, at 10-minute intervals, taking about two hours to complete.
Speeches were pre-recorded and broadcast on YouTube and posted on Wolf Creek Public School’s website.
In the video, the grads “walk” the stage, via their photo passing in front of the camera on a wooden stick to Pomp and Circumstance.
Speeches were given by MP Blaine Calkins, Wolf Creek Board of Trustee Lorrie Jess, Assistant Superintendent of People Services Corrine Thorsteinson, Chief Randy Ermineskin, PSC’s 2020 valedictorian Kristin Hyink, former PSC teacher Rob Haggarty and Principal Kathy McTaggart.
O Canada was sung by Jayden Habinski and the invocation was given by Jerel Peters.
“Graduating from high school is a milestone you’ll always look back on fondly, as the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new and exciting period of your life,” said MP Blaine Calkins.
“While it may not be the graduation you imagined, it remains a significant achievement,” said Jess.
“Your Grade 12 year, your graduation and many other aspects of your lives, have not been what you expected them to be,” said Thorsteinson.
“What you’ve been able to accomplish and achieve in these uncertain times though, deserves no less celebration. Despite COVID-19, you made it.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Chief of Ermineskin Cree Nation, Chief Randy Ermineskin.
“I want to encourage you, that in the midst of this pandemic, and everything that’s going on with the economy … it sometimes doesn’t look like it’s promising but I want to assure you though, to not give up on your dreams,” he said.
“I know change is coming, it’s just a matter for each and every one of us to look forward to that change and see what we can do.”
Hyink thanked the staff for their hard work, as well as the grads, for their hard work and dedication, in completing the year, and wished them all luck in their future endeavours.
Haggarty, who retired in June, says this grad will be memorable, not just because it’s his last one as a teacher, but because of the perseverance of the grads during COVID-19.
“This particular grad is going to stick out in my mind for the rest of my life,” he said.
“I do know that this entire generation, this class in particular, will remember the school year that was cancelled for three-and-a-half months, and the year you finished Grade 12 virtually,” said McTaggart in her closing remarks.
“Not the end of high school that any of us pictured, but you did it, you made it, and many of you with better marks than you were expecting.
“Congratulations. I give each of you a virtual hug and wish you happiness and health as you transition into the next phase of your life.”
Scholarships that were received in June 2020, were announced as the recipient graduate crossed the stage.
The school’s fall academic awards have been rescheduled for Oct. 22. The originally designated award times will remain the same.