Gift for the 2020 Graduates
Gift for the 2020 Graduates
Makeshift graduation celebrates high school seniors in Newmarket amid COVID-19
By Mari-Len De Guzman
They were to have no prom, no graduation party to celebrate a milestone and no graduation ceremony – at least, not like the one that others before them had received. It was a situation faced by this year’s class of 2020 as a result of a global pandemic that continues to wreak havoc across many countries.
The coronavirus has kept people, friends and relatives six-feet apart. But it also brought a group of Grade 12 students from Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newmarket, Ontario, closer together – not physically but in spirit and in their resolve to look forward to a bright future despite the current challenges.
When the Ontario government announced a Phase 3 re-opening in late July across most jurisdictions in the province, including York Region, the parents of these Sacred Heart seniors cooked up a plan to give the students the graduation they deserved. It was an idea to have a day that will celebrate the students’ achievements, as well as their resilience and positive outlook in the face of a global crisis.
Ontario’s phase 3 re-opening allowed the group to hold a mini-graduation event for 12 members of the Sacred Heart class of 2020. The event was held outdoors, at the residence of one of the parents. The parents of participating graduates worked together to make the event truly special: bringing food and drinks, helping with the decorations, offering to bring folding chairs and tables, and sourcing graduation caps and gowns to borrow so the kids can use them. After all, what’s a graduation without graduates clad in black gowns and flat-top hats that have become a symbol of any commencement ceremony?
As the Pomp and Circumstance graduation walking march played in the background, the graduates, one-by-one, marched across the aisle in the middle of a socially distanced seating arrangement. It was a proud moment for the parents, and a happy moment for the graduates, who would not have otherwise made that momentous walk down the aisle this year.
There was laughter, lots of them, as parents stood up to give their graduating child an “award,” personal memorabilia that tells others a little something about the graduate. The World Traveler award, the Future Politician award, the Drama Queen award, the Evel Knievel award – these were just some of the creative ways the parents have come up with to celebrate their child’s personality, achievements and resilience. There were tears of joy, and also some tears of sadness as the reality of their children soon going out on their own to find their place in the world dawned on the parents.
The result was an afternoon filled with happy faces of not just the graduates but their proud parents and families. One parent commented, “This is an event these kids will surely never forget.”
To commemorate the occasion, each graduate was handed a certificate that recognized the student for “successful completion of secondary education and for incredible resilience in the face of a global pandemic.”
“We really appreciate our parents giving us this special day. We could not have asked for a better, more memorable graduation ceremony,” said Gabriel De Guzman, one of the graduates and the class valedictorian.
Among the graduates celebrated in this DIY graduation ceremony include:
Gabriel De Guzman
Patrick De La Bastide