Excluding family from the graduation ceremony at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School is just wrong, says a Red Deer family.
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools has planned June 28 graduation ceremonies for both Notre Dame and St. Joseph High School that only students and staff can attend. An invitation may go out to parents if the province announces a potential move into Stage 3 on or before June 14.
Notre Dame will hold its ceremony in its gym, and the St. Joseph ceremony will be in its fieldhouse.
Parent Lee-Anna Robertson said other schools in Red Deer included family, and they also surveyed families prior to developing graduation plans.
“If they had at least communicated, maybe things would have been different. Unfortunately, here we are,” Robertson said.
“I believe in graduation. I believe after 14 months, and everyone living through what we’ve lived through, they deserve to have something to remember. Students have suffered exponentially.”
Her Grade 12 son Tye agreed that the school should have done more to include families in the planning.
“I just want my family involved. I think that’s the most important thing,” said the Notre Dame graduate.
Red Deer Catholic’s superintendent said in a statement that plans will change as guidelines are updated and restrictions eased.
“Graduation is a very important day and an integral part of each student’s journey for the past three years. Our most recent grad letters that were sent to Grade 12 students and parents were based on the current Alberta Health Services guidelines,” Kathleen Finnigan.
“We are in the process of making plans based on the Stage 2 guidelines. It has always been our hope to have parents and families involved in the graduations celebrations where possible.”
Red Deer Public Schools has already planned to include family at graduations.
On June 25, Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School’s graduation ceremony will be held at Setter’s Field and Bower Ponds. Families will be seated in the bleachers while graduates walk across a covered stage. As per the current plans, 50 graduates will be accommodated per time slot and each grad will be allowed two guests. Details will be adjusted based on AHS restrictions.
On June 25, Hunting Hills High School will host a staggered graduation ceremony at the Centrium, with grads gathered in three groups of 110 students. Grads will have a maximum of 10 guests to remain within guidelines, and will be asked to remain in their cohort and physically distance in the stands.
Both Hunting Hills and Lindsay Thurber’s graduation ceremonies will be live streamed.
On June 29, Gateway Christian School will host a Grad Lift-Off at Canyon Ski Hill.
Parents will drop students off at the bottom of the ski hill and then parents will proceed to the top of the ski hill. Students will ride the lift to the top of the hill wearing their caps and gowns, and receive their diploma cover upon arrival.
The number of family members and friends allowed to attend at the top of the ski hill will be determined by AHS standards at the time of graduation.
On June 18, Alternative School Centre will hold a drive-through style event. Officials are still in the process of determining a location.