The Cowichan Valley School District’s board of education has made their decision regarding graduation ceremonies. (Submitted)

Cowichan grads to have creative graduation ceremonies

All district secondary schools are all at different stages in their planning.

Graduation ceremonies will occur within the Cowichan Valley School District but they won’t be the formal large gatherings many have come to identify as being the tradition for the end of Grade 12.

The Cowichan Valley Board of Education received a report outlining the preliminary plans during their June 2 meeting.

RELATED: Mill Bay students petition for formal graduation

“All district secondary schools are all at different stages in their planning. However, secondary schools will follow the Provincial Health Officer guidelines while finalizing their plans for the ceremonies,” said a report from SD79 director of secondary instruction Larry Mattin. “There is still much planning to do and will be completed over the coming weeks to ensure that all gatherings will not exceed 50-person maximum and that all participants will be safe before, during and after the ceremonies.”

Frances Kelsey, Cowichan, and Chemainus secondary schools, Lake Cowichan School and Cowichan Valley Open Learning Centre, all have slightly different plans.

Frances Kelsey grads will be able to go to school for a cap and gown, diploma and photo ceremony. It won’t be traditional, however. It’ll be on an individual basis.

The whole thing will take three days, June 15-17, to accommodate the physical distancing requirements and a video montage of the graduating class of 2020 will be created from the photos taken at the individual ceremonies.

Up next will be Chemainus Secondary, tentatively planned for June 19.

Chemainus grads are celebrating at their school but will be divided into small groups in various classrooms while viewing the live-streaming of the ceremony. When it’s their time to participate, a handful of graduates, joined by family members, will then move to the multipurpose room to receive their diplomas.

On June 20, Lake Cowichan School’s grads will have their chance to be celebrated, in what the plan calls “an adapted version” of the traditional commencement.

The graduating class of 30 will be split into groups of five and wait in six different rooms within the school.

“Parents and family of each small group of graduates will be in the gym to witness their child’s group do their traditional walk through the gym, walk across stage, receive scholarships, receive Indigenous Education graduate recognition, and hear a story of each graduate from the school’s counselor,” said the plan. “The graduates will then move backstage to remove their graduate gowns in preparation for the candlelight walk. After the candlelight walk, the five graduates will walk out the front doors on the red carpet with parents for photographs by a professional photographer.”

The entire event will be live-streamed to both the classrooms of waiting grads as well as to the public.

CVOLC students will participate in one of five or six separate ceremonies over two days — June 24 and 25 — on the front steps of CVOLC. Each ceremony will include 10-12 grads, three guests each, and school staff.

At Cow High, it’ll be a much different celebration — a travelling one, on June 25 when staff members will visit the homes of graduates for their cap and gown celebrations, where an outdoor diploma ceremony will commence in front of appropriately distanced family and friends.

RELATED: Sooke School District 2020 graduates get stage ceremony after all

Students who would prefer school staff not visit them at home will have an opportunity for the same type of ceremony to occur at school.

“Photographs will be taken by family and posted online with the hashtag #schoolxgrad2020 — to allow all students to follow the hashtag and see their classmates’ pictures. At 8 p.m. the valedictorian speech will be live-streamed for all to see,” said the plan.

What’s more, All graduates will be encouraged to throw their caps in the air while families capture the moment and share it on social media.

Things may change, however. The plans are still preliminary.

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sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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