Leaders of both the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board and the Kenora Catholic District School Board are celebrating the achievements of this year’s graduates, despite an unusual school year for both staff and students.

Directors of Education Sherri-Lynne Pharand with the KPDSB and Derek Haime with the KCDSB both say that schools across the region have been doing all they can to celebrate graduates this year, despite students not being in the classroom since early March.

“We’re trying to make it as special as possible,” says Haime. “We realize that there certainly is an element missing when we don’t have our typical grand celebrations. Of course, we won’t be able to have large groups, so there’s some slightly different plans and some surprises in store too for some of the schools.”

“We recognize that graduation is an important milestone,” said Pharand. “Everybody remembers their graduation day and the importance and significance of that. We’ve tried to incorporate everything we can to make this special for our group of graduates, who will certainly have a unique memory for the history of their graduation.”

The two school boards have been meeting with staff, parents and student leadership to find unique ways to celebrate 2020’s graduating class of northwestern Ontario, and have included student input to develop unique and virtual events.

“We wanted to have conversations with our graduates, and not plan for them but rather plan with them. All of our principals have reached out to student councils and graduates to ask them about their preferences,” said Pharand.

“We’re certainly working together, and listening to contributions from students, staff and parents. I think we’ve put together some graduation ceremonies that are certainly the best they can be under the circumstances to celebrate this important milestone,” added Haime.

Within the KPDSB, Pharand says a wide-variety of different events are scheduled in their schools across the region, including drive-by graduations, caps and gowns for pictures, video messages, virtual graduation ceremonies and much more.

For Kenora Catholic, Haime says graduation ceremonies are lined up for Kindergarten, Grade 6, Grade 8 as well as Grade 12 students, and each school has their own take on the ceremonies.

Haime notes that while everyone involved has been working hard to put on these special ceremonies, he wishes that the COVID-19 situation could have allowed for a typical graduation ceremony.

“I mean, there’s disappointment. Even though everyone’s applied their creativity and passion to make these as special as possible, there certainly is something lost. My heart goes out to students who won’t have the same experience their older brothers, sisters and cousins remember.”

“But everyone has really come together. I’m proud of everyone who has come together under the circumstances. We’re making these celebrations as special as they possibly can be,” Haime added.

Pharand noted that the KPDSB is planning a traditional graduation ceremony for graduating students who wish to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, once health guidelines allow it.

For more information:
Kenora Class of 2020 Drive-By Celebration!