Commencement begins for class of 2020

It’s a different look for graduation at Charles Hays Secondary School

The whole Prince Rupert community will this year get to view the graduation ceremony and support the students of Charles Hays Secondary School’s nontraditional commencement proceedings. The program will be aired on CityWest television June 12 at 7 p.m.

The special occasion ceremony, usually held in the Lester Centre, to celebrate the accomplishments of students will create different memories for the class of 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The rite of passage, in walking across the stage to receive in-hand the diploma of achievement, will be broadcast in a prerecorded version set in the multi-purpose room of the high school. Due to the social distancing and gathering limits no more than 50 people will be in the room at once, Sandra Pond, principal of Charles Hays Secondary said.

“We will have four groups of 10 students per day and we’ve invited three family members. So, we’ll have maybe 30 family members and we’ll be physically distancing them in the multi purpose room.”

Pond said all of the speeches, the vignettes, the students getting their diplomas, scholarships and bursaries will be presented in 12 individual ceremonies recorded on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The segments will then be compiled into one recording.

“It is going to be a long week,” Pond said. “The graduation ceremony usually lasts two to three hours. There are 120 graduates and 12 groups of 10 students this year.”

READ MORE: Canadian high school grads-to-be grapple with possible ceremony cancellations

Graduation and prom usually go hand in hand on the same weekend. However, with Prince Rupert’s Seafest and graduation 2020 originally planned for the same weekend, prom was going to be held on a different weekend. Due to the pandemic none of the events are happening in the traditional manner.

“So, it’s a lot of disappointments for the kids,” Pond said.

Pond said this year the grade 12s were required to do a Capstone project as part of their graduation requirement.

“I’ve been really encouraged watching the students presentations, because they still seem hopeful, which I was really excited to see.”

Pond said the last few weeks of school look a lot different this year, with classes resuming June 1st after being cancelled in March due to COVID-19. The school is trying to keep numbers manageable with only 20 per cent of students in the building at once, in scheduled time blocks, due to the guidelines. Just shy of 40 per cent of students are physically attending with 232 out 570 students at the high school, Pond said.

Students have been apprised of the physical distancing and sanitizing of their works spaces and are handling tings well.

“There are lots of crazy new things for them, but they really took it in their stride. They have been respectful and we have had no issues at all. I’m very impressed. We are disappointed we didn’t have more kids coming, but lots of the kids are actually finding they are being quite successful online and they just wanted to finish out the year doing what they were already doing,” Pond said.

READ MORE: WATCH: Charles Hays Secondary students switch it up at Freaky Friday


K-J Millar | Journalist
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