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Graduation ceremonies are being held virtually

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Oh, the places you’ll (virtually) go.

Since the start of the pandemic students have become accustomed to attending classes and other events online.

Now, graduates are attending their commencement ceremonies virtually as well.

The Grand Erie District School Board has switched all graduations to online following the extended restrictions on public gatherings.

“We are doing our best to make the best of the situation our world is in right now,” said Alison High, principal at Valley Heights Secondary School.

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High said graduation is a big event not only for the students, but also the families and staff to all gather together one last time.

“Sometimes we don’t give kids enough credit for being resilient,” she said. “They continue to carry on, this is what life looks like right now so they are just doing their thing.”

Graduates will be able to stop by to pick up their diploma and awards from the staff during a PA day on Nov. 13.

Similar plans are in place at Delhi District Secondary School.

“I’m glad we were able to do something special for the students,” said Stephen Wills, principal at DDSS. “If it had to be different, I’m glad that we were able to put together something meaningful.”

Wells said staff members on the commencement team spent hours brainstorming and putting together the video for the graduates.

The DDSS community has been understanding of the changes put in place.

“They’ve been understanding that this is out of our control, and appreciative that we are trying to put something together for them,” said Wells. “It’s been an overall positive response, unlike the prom for example which was a little more contentious in the spring.”

During the VHSS video students will hear from their valedictorian, Jamie Friesen, and DDSS will hear from Brooke Booker. Both ceremonies will be available on Youtube with a private link being sent out to families.

The videos will include written or video messages from staff and faculty from the schools.

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“It will include as many of the quote unquote normal things that could be included,” said High.

Dates for commencements at Grand Erie secondary schools are: Delhi District Secondary, Nov. 6; Valley Heights Secondary, Nov. 6; Brantford Collegiate Institute, Nov. 13; Waterford District High School, Nov. 20.

Simcoe Composite School’s ceremony has already taken place.

Tracey Austin, manager of communications for the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board, said graduations ceremonies at its three high schools, normally held in June, were postponed to fall. Each school will have a virtual commencement.

Austin’s son, Jared, graduated from Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Simcoe in June and picked up his graduation diploma on Thanksgiving weekend when he was home from London’s Western University.

“Although it was certainly difficult not being able to see him walk across a stage and receive his diploma and awards, Holy Trinity put together a lovely grad package,” said Austin. “Having his gown and collar in the package was really special as we could still take a ‘grad’ picture of him.”

HT prepared graduation packages that include a diploma, class composite, gown and collar, grad program, and a small gift. Over the next few months, a graduation ceremony video will be made with the link emailed to the Class of 2020.

– With files from Michelle Ruby

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