Like other high schools in B.C. and Canada, Enderby’s A.L. Fortune Secondary had to find a way to recognize its graduating Class of 2020.
With everyone from students and staff to family, friends and the community pitching in, Fortune’s grad ceremony was awesome.
In the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, ALF decided to hold a physically distanced grad ceremony. To reduce the number of spectators to a safe number, they planned to film the event so family members could watch later from home.
The original plan called for filming to take place and have the event shown at the city’s Starlight Drive-In, but the facility cancelled that, and ceremonies for five other Okanagan-Shuswap high schools, after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s announced drive-in theatres can hold no more than 50 cars.
“Although this was not a traditional grad, the mood of the grads and their families was very positive and upbeat,” said Fortune principal Scott Anderson.
The school held its commencement ceremony Monday, June 1, two weeks ahead of schedule. The date was moved up, for the first time ever, to accommodate the filming and production.
Thirty-three grads arrived in the morning to find their caps and gowns laid out on distanced chairs for them in the gym. Once dressed, the grads had several photos taken, including outside shots with the school and famous Enderby Cliffs in the background.
After the photos, grads proceeded in groups of six (all two metres apart) into the school theatre where their parents were waiting (also spaced two metres apart) to watch them cross the stage and receive their diploma.
When each grad had their turn, their monologue was read out (including future plans, scholarships awarded, school memories and thank yous) and they received a “high five” using Class of 2020 hand clappers from their principal.
Because of the low numbers in the theatre, parents were able to occupy aisle seats and could easily photograph their grad as he/she had their moment and walked down the aisle. After each group of six was finished, all grads and parents left the theatre while staff sanitized seats for the next group of six to enter and have their turn.
Dignitary speeches were filmed and will be added to the final cut of the grad video. This grad “movie” will be aired to grads on Friday, June 12 (the original grad date) in a physically distanced showing at the ALF Theatre (including popcorn, drinks and other treats).
“Each grad will also receive a USB drive with the entire ceremony,” said Anderson. “Families will be able to view the video with family members and friends at home or online, and it makes for a great keepsake.”
On a separate, but positive, note Anderson thanked the community members, businesses and organizations, as more than $56,000 in scholarships, bursaries and awards were given out to the Class of 2020.
“An amazing contribution and investment in the future by our awesome little community,” he said.