Powell River’s high school graduation ceremony this Saturday at Hap Parker Arena is a rite of passage for grade 12 students and their families. This year approximately 180 students will participate.
Along with speeches and musical performances, students will take part in something of a Powell River tradition: the Grand March.
“It’s kind of the cornerstone of this event,” said Brooks vice principal Jennifer Kennedy. “It’s a super traditional thing to do.”
Grand marches began in the nineteenth century and were the customary start of a dance. It was an opportunity to see and be seen, and gives local spectators the chance to look at graduates’ dresses and suits on display.
In Powell River, the Grand March dates back to at least 1970, according to Powell River Historical Museum collection manager Nikita Johnston, who searched through Powell River News archives for references to the march.
A lot of planning goes into the graduation ceremony, including the Grand March.
“We had a rehearsal for all of the kids to walk through to get a feel for what it’s going to be like on the big night,” said Kennedy.
The graduation ceremony has changed in recent years as many students opt to complete grade 12 earlier or later. It focuses on a group of students who have grown up and attended school together at the same time.
“It might be one of the last times they’re all together as a group,” said Kennedy.
Speeches by students Catriona Hopper, David Nadalini and Jing Zhong, and musical performances from Rachel Peckford and Take 5, which has three of it members graduating, will round out the festivities.
“We’re so excited for this week,” said Kennedy. “We spend all year planning for it and it’s over in a flash, but it’s so exciting to see the students look so lovely and be celebrated by the community.”
The ceremony begins at 7 pm; doors open at 5 pm.