Special convocation at Alberta high school lets terminally ill 8-year-old graduate
Milestones are often taken for granted by people until they reflect back on them later in life. But for an eight-year-old girl from Beaumont, Alta., a special high school graduation ceremony held just for her illustrated the power of making the most of every moment.
Graduating from high school is one of many items Janaya Chekowski-McKenzie, who is living with a terminal illness, has been checking off of her bucket list the last few months. On Wednesday, M.E. LaZerte High School in north Edmonton gave her a grad to remember.
The day started with Chekowski-McKenzie attending various classes at the school, including gym and shop classes. Ahead of her graduation ceremony, she got to do a ceremonial coin toss at the school’s senior boys’ volleyball game.
Later, Chekowski-McKenzie had her hair and makeup done by the school’s cosmetology department for the ceremony. She walked across a stage in front of hundreds of people as the traditional graduation song (“Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1”) played before she was given her diploma by local MLA Chris Nielsen.
Watch below: In February 2018, Sarah Kraus filed this report about a young Alberta girl facing a difficult diagnosis and how people are now trying to help her check items off her bucket list.
“I couldn’t thank M.E. LaZerte (High School) enough, and the principal and staff, for letting us into their space and for giving my daughter this day cause it was just so fun to watch her laugh and have fun,” said Janaya’s mother, Amanda Chekowski.
“Everybody’s just been super supportive, making sure that we’re OK.”
Like many other high school graduates do, Chekowski-McKenzie planned to celebrate her graduation with a trip. She and her mother are planning to step off a plane in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday so she can experience Disney World.
In February, Chekowski-McKenzie was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain tumour known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Soon after, the young girl came up with a bucket list that she has been chipping away at between treatments.
Watch below: In the spring of 2018, a live music event at a north Edmonton church helped make three dreams come true for a young girl who has a terminal illness.
Chekowski-McKenzie’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with her living costs and possible future treatments. It had raised $32,284 by Tuesday night.
While the girl’s family is hoping for the best, they said her prognosis is not positive.
–With files from Global News’ Margeaux Maron, Sarah Kraus and Albert Delitala
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