Grade 12 students at Brooks Secondary School can finally breathe as the school has announced plans for a Class of 2020 graduation celebration. This year’s festivities will stand out from the rest as changes will be made to help keep graduates, students and school staff safe from the effects of COVID-19.
Brooks principal Bill Rounis announced the plan for the new celebration on May 21, saying graduates and their immediate family will have a chance to go to Max Cameron Theatre at the school over two days, June 23 and 24, for the celebration. This will give each graduate a chance to walk across the stage in their fancy dress or suit, and have their family watch as they celebrate a giant milestone.
Although the graduates won’t be able to shake hands with the teachers or trustees who will be on stage with them, “a graduate who is receiving a scholarship will be given their scholarship while they cross the stage,” said Rounis.
Grade 12 student Rhianna Williams is looking forward to graduation and celebrating it, despite the circumstances.
“The part of graduation that I was most looking forward to was being in a big group with all my friends,” said Williams.
For Williams and her grad class, it was a strange and confusing time when they were unsure if a celebration was even going to happen. Before Rounis’ announcement, Williams said she found many graduates were just confused about what was going on.
“A lot of us have looked forward to this for a long time, so having it taken away so quickly is upsetting,” she added. “I think a lot of people just want to know what is going to happen, if anything.”
When planning for the celebration, Rounis said he worked with many other high school principals on Vancouver Island, as well as faculty and the grade 12 grad committee.
Pamela Ellis, a teacher at Brooks who has been a part of the grad committee since 2013, said that before the school had to be shut down due to COVID-19, the grad committee “was well underway in planning for the Grand March.”
Ellis said once new plans for this year’s celebration started, it was all hands on deck with many teachers volunteering to help out. Of course, the planning did not go without any bumps, she added.
“The most challenging part would have to be the emotional part of missing out on things,” said Ellis.
It then became another job for everyone to move past the emotions to be able to find a solution on how to have the best and safest celebration possible.
The grad committee “is still working hard,” said Ellis. “We still have Zoom meetings every week.”
Along with the rest of school, Ellis wants to work with the students as much as possible.
Now that the school has announced its plans, Williams and her classmates can finally figure out how they are going to style their hair and decide what shoes to wear, knowing they will soon be able to walk across the stage.
“After finding out about the new ceremony, I was happy that we are being recognized this year,” said Williams. “I appreciate that everyone is trying to celebrate our grad even though we can’t all be together right now.”