In a class of their own: Grad 2020 in Hope

Hope Secondary’s graduates, all lined up for a car parade in their honour Saturday. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard
Hope Secondary School’s 2020 grads strut their stuff, after a community parade in their honour.
Hope Secondary School’s 2020 grads strut their stuff, after a community parade in their honour. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard
‘Wave to the drone, guys’ was the instruction as Hope Secondary’s class of 2020 assembled - at a physical distance - for a grad class drone shot.
Grads prepared to throw their caps, with a drone watching above.
Physical distancing was the reality as grads assembled on the field in front of Hope Secondary School Saturday, preparing to celebrate the end of their 12 years of school.
Grads got to do a real cap throw, as long as they promised not to touch anyone else’s cap.
Grads pose for photos outside Hope Secondary School.
Grads pose for photos outside Hope Secondary School.
Grads pose for photos outside Hope Secondary School.
Grads pose for photos outside Hope Secondary School.
Grads pose for photos outside Hope Secondary School, with proud family and friends capturing the moment.
Trucks and cars decked out with balloons and messages of congratulations parades past Hope Secondary’s graduates Saturday.
Hope Secondary graduate Hannah Chisholm walks past photos of her fellow graduates. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard
Hope Secondary School’s graduating class of 2020 were celebrated in the windows of the school.
Chantelle Mercier, left, helped move Mackenzie Berg’s tassel from left to right during his individualized graduation ceremony at Hope Secondary School. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard
Mackenzie Berg at his individualized graduation ceremony. All of Hope Secondary’s graduates were given a graduation time, they arrived with up to 10 guests and entered through an arch decorated with balloons. A short speech, the moving of the tassel and a few photos later, they were officially graduates.
Chantelle Mercier, left, and Mackenzie Berg said they didn’t mind so much the dramatic changes to their lives, and to graduation ceremonies, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A happy 2020 graduate at her individualized ceremony.
Cameras set up to photograph each Hope Secondary graduate in an individualized ceremony.
Alexa Guerrero enters her individualized ceremony at Hope Secondary’s gym. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard
Alexa Guerrero gets her tassel moved from left to right, confirming her as a graduate, at her individualized ceremony in the Hope Secondary School gym.
Graduate Faith Johnny, surrounded by her loved ones, said it didn’t quite feel as exciting as she had expected to graduate. With the reality of the coronavirus, Johnny and her fellow Hope Secondary graduates swapped prom and a massive grad ceremony for a car parade and individualized ceremonies with maximum 10 guests.
Hope Secondary School graduate Faith Johnny.
A family member squeezes in a last minute grad gift ahead of a community parade along 4th Avenue honouring Hope Secondary’s 2020 graduates. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard
Family found ways to honour their grads, including Matteo Andrews who was at the front of the line-up of graduates awaiting a parade along 4th Avenue. Andrews said he was excited to be graduating, as high school had had its struggles.
A car parade, with happy family members, passed Hope Secondary’s 2020 grad class.
Some not-so-human guests celebrated Hope’s 2020 grads at a car parade Saturday. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard
One of Hope Secondary’s graduates, all lined up for a car parade in their honour Saturday.
These two made sure some real noise was made for Hope’s graduates, walking across the street from the grads ringing bells.
These two made sure some real noise was made for Hope’s graduates, walking across the street from the grads ringing bells.
Hope Secondary’s graduates, all lined up for a car parade in their honour Saturday.
Harvey Robinson, a hereditary chief of Klemtu who shares his traditional knowledge with Hope Secondary students, dressed in his regalia and walked the parade route to honour the 2020 graduates.
Harvey Robinson, dressed in full regalia, honoured each 2020 graduate Saturday. For Robinson, it is about paying respect to the young people, who have achieved their goals in school and are now able to move forward in life.
One family got cheeky with the celebration of their baby-turned-graduate Saturday.
One of Hope Secondary’s graduates, all lined up for a car parade in their honour Saturday.
One of Hope Secondary’s graduates, all lined up for a car parade in their honour Saturday.
Proud family members positioned themselves directly across the road from their graduate Saturday.
One of Hope Secondary’s graduates, all lined up for a car parade in their honour Saturday.
One of Hope Secondary’s graduates, all lined up for a car parade in their honour Saturday.
One of Hope Secondary’s graduates, all lined up for a car parade in their honour Saturday.
A Hope Secondary grad poses for family photos after the graduation parade Saturday.
Hope Secondary grads pose for family photos after the graduation parade Saturday.
A Hope Secondary grad gets the cap just right during Saturday’s parade in honour of Hope Secondary’s class of 2020.

It was a graduation day like no other for Hope’s class of 2020 this past Saturday.

Amid continued restrictions on gatherings of over 50 people, as well as continued warnings on staying physically distanced, many graduation ceremonies across B.C. were cancelled or went online.

With innovation and planning from Hope Secondary School teachers and administrators, flexibility and willingness of graduates and their families to tone down festivities and a whole lot of luck with the weather, Hope’s 43 graduates were able to experience this major milestone together.

The class of 2020 swapped a flashy prom and a massive graduation ceremony in the gym, for a Saturday, June 6 car parade under the beaming sunshine, a physically distanced cap throw on the lawn in front of the school and a whole day of individualized ceremonies.

Hope’s graduating class lined up along 4th Avenue around 11 a.m., then waved and smiled as a parade of cars decked out with balloons, signs and photos celebrated them at a distance. After the parade, grads assembled on the lawn outside Hope Secondary, forming the number 20 when viewed from the sky. A drone flew overhead, capturing the grads waving up towards it and throwing their caps into the sky after strict instructions not to touch anyone else’s cap when they fell to the ground.

Afterwards the families disbursed, one family carrying their grad away sitting atop a convertible for their own family parade through Hope’s streets. They would return, in groups of up to 10, to attend an ‘individualized ceremony’ where each grad walked through a balloon-festooned arch to receive their diploma and have their cap tassel moved from left to right.

Graduate Faith Johnny, waiting in line outside the school to attend her individual graduation with her 10 guests, said she felt kind of nervous. “It doesn’t feel like I’m graduating because it’s not the same as it usually is,” she said. ” I just thought I would be more excited.”

Leading up to graduation day, Johnny had been thinking about what was going to happen around this time and whether she and her classmates would be able to have a graduation at all. “I’m glad the teachers and staff really made the grad class feel special, they really went all out with everything they could do,” she said.

Despite the uncertainty of this time, Johnny has her plans for the next few years mapped out. She plans to take a gap year to work, then onto university to study social work either at Vancouver Island University or Langara College. She eventually plans to come back to the Hope area as a social worker.

For some graduates, the new format didn’t seem to phase them. Chantelle Mercier said it was less scary than she would have imagined a large-scale graduation ceremony to be. Mackenzie Berg agreed, the individualized ceremonies suited him as it was less of a public, showy event.

The class of 2020 had to deal with the coronavirus pandemic not only at grad, but also throughout the last few months of their Grade 12 year. This involved a lot of online learning, as well as keeping physically distant while at school.

“I feel like it’s harder for the people that are more social, but I don’t think we are,” Mercier laughed. School has been easier, she said, doing things through technology and listening to instructions via email and video.

“For people like me it’s been areally good time, because you don’t have to socialize with people anymore,” Berg agreed. “I just like focusing on the work, doing it at home.”

Berg is going onto a plumbing program, looking towards a Red Seal certification, after graduation. For Mercier, the near future looks like working and saving up for a place of her own.

Counsellor Erin Wilkins has seen her fair share of graduation ceremonies. “Make no mistake, I miss everybody all in the same place,” she said. “But this is definitely more personal, it’s got that small town feeling which I really like.

Which is weird, I don’t want there to be COVID, but this is great.”

Luckily Hope is small enough, Wilkins said, that individualized ceremonies are a possibility.

It made for a more than 8 hour day Saturday for teachers and staff gathered, and at least 20 speeches by Wilkins including a rendition of Never Gonna Give You Up for grad Tyson Goglin.

“(We) asked staff to send me something about each student, like what will you remember,” she said. “It’s that extra added touch to make it something unique. I mean, they’re never going to forget grad 2020 but this makes it a little bit extra special.”

Wilkins has known most grads their entire high school career, some since Grade 7. While it’s an exciting time, “they take a little piece with me, every single one of them,” she said. “For some of them, I have to take a deep breath so I don’t cry. It’s emotional, I think, for all teachers.”

Boston Bar Elementary Secondary School has one graduate this year – Austyn Campbell. Graduating from the Two Rivers Education Centre are 12 students, who will be celebrated virtually through a video ceremony.



emelie.peacock@hopestandard.com

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