Winnipeg’s class of 2022 is looking forward to a return to a normal graduation this year, after a majority of time spent in high school that was anything but.
The COVID-19 pandemic meant in-person graduation ceremonies and parties couldn’t happen for the past two years, but that’s all changing for students set to graduate this month.
And they couldn’t be more excited.
“Just having a normal grad this year is the most exciting part of the year, it’s super amazing, I’m really happy, I wasn’t sure we were going to have it,” said Grade 12 Dakota Collegiate student Danaite Mehretab.
But that worry is officially over for Mehretab and her friends, including Emily Langstaff, who will get their diplomas at Dakota Collegiate’s Dinner and Safe Grad June 22.
Langstaff says her older friends — who didn’t get to celebrate with their classmates when they graduated in 2020 and 2021 — are a little jealous.
“All of the people in the last two grades have been like, ‘Oh you’re so lucky that you guys get an actual grad,'” she said.
Getting the green light to graduate in-person has meant a busy grad season for Joanne Roth, owner of The Perfect Gown.
Roth says her store has been packed with grad students looking for that perfect dress.
“We’ve been busy these last few months and even these last couple of weeks, girls coming in last minute,” Roth told Global News Friday.
“I still got a call today, ‘Is it too late to get a grad gown?’ And it’s not too late.”
When Garden City Collegiate student Carly Gesell got her gown back in November, she still didn’t know for sure if she’d be able to use it.
The Grade 12 student admits she was a little bit nervous when she found out they would be graduating in-person this year, but nonetheless, she’s ready to don the cap and gown with her friends.
“Mostly we kind of just assumed that we would have like how the other schools had it, where you just drive up and something like that, so it was kind of weird that we’re having this,” she said of the school’s June 29 grad ceremony planned for the RBC Convention Centre.
“I am excited and I’m excited to graduate and to celebrate, that we actually have a big celebration.”
When the pandemic started in 2020, Gesell and her classmates were in Grade 10, and just getting ready to start spring break.
At first Gesell says she and her friends were excited to have a longer spring break, but that changed as the “break” just kept happening.
“For me, it was kind of surreal,” she now says of the pandemic, which saw all her classes moved to remote learning for her Grade 11 year.
Gesell says the experience of going to school through a pandemic has changed her plans for after high school.
She says she wants to travel and spend as much time as she can soaking up knowledge after graduating with her friends later this month.
“I want to just learn more because I think that for us, like, our learning was stunted,” she said.
“I just want to go out and explore.”
— with files from Global’s Abigail Turner