Coronavirus: Lethbridge students find new way to celebrate graduation

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Lethbridge students find new way to celebrate graduation
WATCH: Lethbridge students who won't be getting a graduation ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic are finding a new way to celebrate the occasion with unique photoshoots. Emily Olsen reports – Apr 24, 2020

High school and post-secondary graduates in Lethbridge won’t have a convocation ceremony or any parties any time soon due to COVID-19, but many are finding ways to celebrate the occasion anyway.

Photographer Erin Collett said that when her University of Lethbridge convocation was cancelled, she immediately thought of the city’s high school graduates.

”I just wanted it to be a special time for them,” Collett said Friday.

Now, Collett is doing quarantine graduation photoshoots to commemorate the milestone.

“They can get their portraits done right away, and they can send them to their family and friends, and still feel like they’re celebrating grad right now when it would be happening,” she said.

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“It really is a unique time in history, and I think that it’s fun to document and keep as a keepsake for later on to look back on.”

Catholic Central High School graduate Olivia Roust said that she had been looking forward to her graduation for years.

“It’s been a little bit disappointing but you have to see a silver lining,” Roust said.

Roust’s silver lining is the opportunity to don her sparkly graduation gown and take a series of photos with Collett.

“I think it documents the really unique time that we’re in. We’re pretty much glued to our houses anyway, so getting your grad photos done at your house documents that,” Roust said.

“I know my grandparents are excited to see me in my dress… I’m super excited to see how they turn out. It’s been really fun.”

Lethbridge College graduate Darby Melvin said she was surprised by the cancellation of her convocation festivities.

“I was pretty disappointed when it got cancelled but I think I can speak for most graduates that we were wanting to celebrate,” Melvin said.

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“Today is my actual grad so I have to dress up somehow.”

Her shoot with Collett was more toned down than the high school grad one, with a simple dress, cap and graduation gown.

Melvin said the photos are a great way to connect with her grandparents and friends who have moved away.

“I’ll send them all to my family for sure,” she said.

Despite concerns raised about the safety of porch portraits in the photography community, Collett said she is playing it safe, with at least eight feet of separation from her clients.

“I don’t knock on the door. I don’t touch them,” Collett said. “I just tell them how to adjust their hair and everything.”

Collett said she wants to give graduates the opportunity to shine and a keepsake of an unprecedented graduating year.

“This is just a way to feel a little bit more normal and bring a little bit of positive light to the situation,” Collett said.

“Just a quick shoot, so everyone has a reason to dress up. I mean I feel like everyone is living in their sweatpants right now.”


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