Vanier celebrates ‘Grad on the Go’

Dylan Desharnais signs his name on a special plaque painted by graduate Hailey Limoges.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

G.P. Vanier School in Donnelly honoured 38 graduates with a special event since large ceremonies could not be held during the coronavirus (COVD-19) pandemic.

The class of 38 students went on tour of homes in “Grad to Go” on June 16-18, principal Pam Heckbert says.

Some travelled on a school bus and others in vehicles.

Vanier was scheduled to celebrate graduation May 16, traditionally held on the Victoria Day weekend.

“We travelled to each student’s home,” Heckbert says.

“The gratitude and support of the grads and their parents and families were absolutely overwhelming.

“Every family worked hard to make the experience special for the graduates.

“We are very grateful to have had the opportunity to bring a personal congratulations to each of our Grade 12 students before the end of the year.”

Each grad received a homemade wooden box that contained their graduation cap and tassel, a certificate from Vanier, well wishes from Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen, a personal message from local trustee Karin Scholl of High Prairie School Division, personal messages from many teachers, a speech by principal Pam Heckbert and a speech by valedictorian Elizabeth Isert.

“We also delivered a composite photo of the grad class, a candy treat, and read a personal biography for the grad for them and their family,” Heckbert says.

Each visit lasted approximately 10 minutes.

“The vast majority of the grads welcomed us in their dresses and suits, with their families there to support them and celebrate with them,” Heckbert says.

Many of the grads had friends and other guests there to celebrate with them.

“Sometimes other grads ran from house to house down the street beside the bus to celebrate with their friends,” Heckbert says.

“Some parents were very emotional as it was the last time a bus would be coming into their yard and picking up their kids.”

“Grad on the Go” was developed collaboratively at one of Vanier’s staff meetings by a few of teachers.

“Vanier staff worked extremely hard to create a personal grad experience and still respect social distancing guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19,” Heckbert says.

“We hope to be able to have some type of ceremony later, but at this point assemblies and gatherings of people outside student cohorts are not recommended.”

However, that may not be possible in the fall, she notes.

Each evening tour was about three hours and 30 minutes.

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