Coronavirus: Saskatoon high school students embrace unique graduation ceremonies

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WATCH: High school graduations look a lot different during a pandemic, but many students are grateful to have any type of ceremony – Jun 25, 2020

Many large events have been cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some have been able to continue with a few changes.

For graduating high school students, Tommy Douglas Collegiate held a virtual ceremony Thursday morning and then a drive-thru diploma presentation was held in front of the school in the afternoon.

Read more: Coronavirus: Saskatchewan premier encourages innovative ways to celebrate graduations

Both the Saskatoon Public School board and the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School district initially planned strictly virtual ceremonies. Earlier this month, premier Scott Moe encouraged people to organize creative graduation ceremonies, including in-person ceremonies.

“Originally, we didn’t think we would be able to do this, but as things have opened up a bit more there is an allowance for graduation ceremonies to occur outdoors,” Tommy Douglas Collegiate principal Colleen Norris said.

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Teachers cheered as about 185 students received their diplomas. Families were also able to get close enough to take photos.

Norris has been impressed with the optimism of students as they finished grade school.

“They’ve been leaders in our community and they’ve handled it really, really well,” Norris said of her students.

Read more: Warman High School to hold 2020 graduation at racetrack

Some graduates actually preferred the style of Thursday’s ceremony, saying it felt more personal and unique.

“To be honest, I actually like it,” graduate Maryam Ahmad said.

“We can’t do anything about it so better to accept the reality and go with the flow.”

Others were slightly disappointed they couldn’t finish high school the way they always imagined.

“I know it’s the best that the teachers could do for us and I’m so grateful for it, but I was really looking forward to having a bigger graduation ceremony,” graduate India Braithwaite said after receiving her diploma.

While it has been a strange time for the class of 2020, many said graduating during a pandemic will make it even more memorable.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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