In just over two weeks’ time, members of École HJ Cody School’s graduating class will mark the end of their schooling years with what’s set to be a true community-wide celebration.
HJ Cody graduation ceremonies in the recent years have been split between Red Deer and Sylvan Lake, with organizers in the past having been unable to find a venue in Sylvan Lake big enough to accommodate dinner for everyone in attendance.
This year, with a slightly different look that will see the dinner replaced by a prom, celebrations will be held exclusively in Sylvan Lake.
“We really realized that we wanted to make it a Sylvan celebration,” said grad co-ordinator and school counsellor Jas Payne. “It didn’t make sense that the graduation for Sylvan happened in Red Deer, and that’s kind of where the whole thing came out of. Parents were really motivated to have the celebration in Sylvan Lake.”
Graduation celebrations this year will take place over two days instead of one, resulting in less pressure on participants to travel from event to event, said Payne, whose decision to add the prom was inspired by the town’s Dance of the Century in 2013.
“The Dance of the Century gave me the idea that we could do something cool in the Multiplex,” he said, adding the event will allow graduates to get the very most out of their prom wear.
“In the past, the only complaint was that girls would sit down and not have the opportunity to experience walking in their dresses,” he said. “They’d dress up and sit for hours during the dinner and banquet.”
The prom will take place on Friday, June 26, while the next day will see students lining up for a photo on the Pier in the morning before marching two-by-two to the Multiplex for their convocation ceremony in the afternoon.
With the exception of the prom, which is a ticketed event, community members — and businesses — are being invited to participate in celebrations over the course of the two days, and can do so without even attending any of the scheduled events,” said Payne.
“This is a great opportunity to bring all of the celebration back to benefit the community, and lots of great businesses are looking to get busier,” he said. “There are going to be 3,000 people in the Multiplex, and between the end of convocation and other events going on, there’s time for families to get together for family dinners.”
One restaurant in Sylvan Lake has already created a promotional discount for graduates and their families, and Payne hopes to see others follow suit.
The outdoor portion of celebrations, he said, will take place “rain or shine.”