Brooks Secondary School graduating students will have an expanded celebration compared to the previous two years.
Brooks principal Bill Rounis said this year’s celebration will have two parts, one run by the parents and the other run by the school. He said the part the parents are looking at will be on June 25. Similar to last year, there is a car parade. Students are gathering at 4:30 pm at the Beach Gardens, and the parade will start between 5:15 and 5:30 pm.
The route will proceed along Highway 101, onto Joyce Avenue to Manson Avenue. The procession will turn left on Cranberry Street, then to Arbutus Avenue, to Walnut Street and onto Dwight Hall. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Students, in their finery, will have their prom from 7 pm to 1 am.
“The parents have organized a prom for the kids that evening,” said Rounis. “The students will all be dressed up in their gowns and suits and formal wear and it should be a really nice afternoon and evening.
“Last year, it was just the car parade, but because of moving out of the pandemic, we are able to have that opportunity for kids to celebrate together in the parade, and afterwards, in the prom. That’s the dry grad portion the parents are running.”
Rounis said the car parade has been popular and he thinks it might be a new grad tradition here that could continue for years to come.
Cap and gown
On Wednesday, June 29, the school will be having its cap and gown graduation ceremony, which is the last day of school. Rounis said it is a convocation/graduation ceremony and it’s not required that students have actually graduated, but it’s part of their cohort and that’s the year the school celebrates them.
“The kids get to cross the stage once in their careers, so for our grade 12s, this is the year, and they get to graduate with their friends,” said Rounis. “In some cases, we might have students coming back from dual-credit trade programs and they might have some other schooling to do.”
Rounis said the ceremony is not just for Brooks students. qathet region students from Partners in Education, Brooks offsite and Francophone School District 93 will also be involved, even though it’s run by Brooks Secondary.
The event will be taking place once again in Hap Parker Arena at Powell River Recreation Complex. Doors open at 5 pm and the ceremony begins at 6 pm.
A stage will be set up on the side of the arena, rather than the end, as has typically been the case. Rounis said this will allow spectators to face the stage rather than looking toward the side of it. On the floor, around the stage, about 500 chairs will be set up.
Rounis said that this year, there are about 150 grads, and each student receives four tickets. If they want extras, it works on a first-come, first served basis. He said the school had full intentions of running grad the way it did last year, in Max Cameron Theatre, with one family and one student at a time, but the grad committee looked at this structure, knowing that restrictions had opened up.
“The biggest key for our students is they wanted to have all of their friends together at once,” said Rounis. “We looked at our own facilities here, and we might have been able to do something close at the Evergreen Theatre, but it just wasn’t big enough.”
Back to normal
At the graduation ceremony, Rounis said scholarships and bursaries will be awarded. This year, rather than recorded speeches, as happened last year, they will be live.
“It’s going to feel like it used to, like a normal grad,” said Rounis. “I expect it will run two to three hours. It’s a full evening. It will be the last official function for our students.
“They are at the centre of everything. When we look at why we are doing this, we are here to honour the students. We’re here to wish them well in their next steps. There’s nothing more important than a kid graduating and taking their first steps toward their careers. It’s having them cross the stage with pride. It makes me feel good.”
Rounis said he is not only proud, but almost speechless knowing what they’ve had to overcome.
“To see them just thrive makes me proud, and the other piece that makes me proud, too, is regardless of what has been going on in the community and the world, the community continues to come together and support our kids,” added Rounis. “For almost every student who puts their name in for a scholarship, there’s room for them to be receiving them. For some kids, it’s the difference between being able to go to post-secondary education and not being able to go.”