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Small celebrations planned for Sylvan Lake grads during pandemic

The high school and local businesses have small events planned to honour the Class of 2020
Ecole H.J. Cody High School has decorated its windows facing Centennial Street to celebrate the Class of 2020. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

The current pandemic has postponed the milestone event of high school graduation for Grade 12 students at H.J. Cody, but staff are working to mark the occasion during a unique time.

Mike Garrow, principal at H.J. Cody, says it is an important occasion, one that the students have worked hard for over the last 12 years.

Which is why the staff are working on ways to mark the milestone and celebrate with students, in a safe way which follows Alberta Health guidelines.

“We have a few things planned to celebrate our grads now and throughout June,” Garrow said.

The staff at the high school began the celebration by painting the windows of the school facing Centennial Street.

“Congrats Grad 2020” is the eye-catching display painted on the windows.

Staff are also planning a surprise for the morning of May 30, the day the grad ceremony was planned for.

“I don’t want to give anything away, but we have asked the parents to make sure our grads are home Saturday morning,” Garrow said of the surprise.

Garrow says the grads will continue to be honoured throughout June on social media. In particular taped speeches will be posted on various social media sites over the month of June to honour the graduates.

“This is an unusual time, the grads are of course disappointed, and so are we,” Garrow said, speaking of how the staff look forward to celebrating with their students.

Small celebrations through the school are not the only way the high school graduates will have to mark the occasion.

Local businesses are teaming together to give the grads a night to wear their fancy dresses and suits.

Bukz, Bukwildz, X-Calibur and Deb MacNeil Photography are teaming together to give grads a night to remember.

Bukwildz and X-Calibur are donating $3,000 each for grads to have a night out with their family in honour of the graduation.

“We at Bukz and Bukwildz feel for the grads of 2020 from our community! With being able to be back open at 50 percent occupancy we would like give back to the grad class of 2020,” the Facebook announcement from Bukwildz said.

Each table, with a maximum of six people to a table, will receive a $50 tab for food and drink.

Photographer Deb MacNeil will be providing mini photo sessions as well.

Grads can make a reservation for June 4 or 5 between the hours of 5-9 p.m. by calling 587-877-9453.

Garrow said the grads, and all students, have worked incredibly hard during the pandemic and at-home learning.

He called the students “incredibly resilient.”

“I am so proud of all they have accomplished and the work they have put in over the past 12 years, not just the last two months,” he said.

The hope is to have the graduation ceremony in the fall, but Garrow says it all depends on what restrictions are in place by Alberta Health and Alberta Education.

“We are looking forward to celebrating with a ceremony soon, but this is what we can do for now.”