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Kootenay Lake District students find new ways to celebrate High School Graduation

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
June 9th, 2020

Kootenay Lake Grade 12 students are doing their best to shake off the COVID-19 pandemic and celebrate Graduation 2020 throughout the District.

Mount Sentinel was the latest school to showcase their graduates during a ceremony last week at the South Slocan-based school.

Outgoing principal Glen Campbell never envisioned his final graduation ceremony would be a virtual rendering of one, after having been a part of grad for the past 31 years at Mount Sentinel Secondary.

“It’s going to look very different, but I am optimistic we have the ability to turn it into something unique and special.” says Campbell.

Mt. Sentinel held a physically distanced ceremony last week, drawing on the expertise and skillset of their Performance Academy program students for the filming, editing and video production of all the moving parts. 

Academy PM teacher Jacy Schindel is confident his students can produce a professional product comparable to what any video company could and since they are doing it in-house, it creates the flexibility to let the process breathe.

“Grad is such an important rite of passage,” says Schindel, “and especially for this year’s group of grads, we have the unique opportunity to slow everything down and spend more time with each one, to congratulate them and honour their hard work and individual accomplishments.”

Prince Charles Secondary in Creston started the ceremonies June 1-2.

Salmo Secondary students will receive diplomas and scholarships Tuesday (June 9) before L.V. Rogers in Nelson captures center stage for their ceremony Friday and Saturday (June 12-13) highlighted by the Cavalcade through Nelson beginning at 4 p.m.

With a little help from Mt. Sentinel Secondary Academy students, the graduating class at Salmo Secondary this year will each receive a digital keepsake of their unprecedented Cap & Gown ceremony.

Every student graduating this year from Salmo Secondary has achieved a scholarship, and the ceremony will include a personalized reflection of each student’s growth and accomplishments.

LVR students will have a unique recording of their commencement ceremony on June 12th, with each graduate’s name called virtually to receive their diploma and then a special ‘Say Something’ curated by the students themselves will be read aloud.

The ceremony will be video recorded and released at the end of June to students and families.

“Overall, I think we are doing okay,” said Grade 12 LVR student and SD8 student trustee Harlan Hofmann-Miller when asked to convey the understandable disappointment many grads are feeling this year.

“Everyone is doing their best to deal with what we’ve been dealt.”

Hofmann-Miller also shared his experience as a senior these last few months and described how the necessity to shift to online learning in the final semester of high school has actually provided some reprieve for some students, during what normally would be a very hectic time.

“A lot of grads suffer from ‘Senioritus’ in the spring of their graduating year,” said Hofmann-Miller, “and while finishing this year has been confusing overall, it has at least slowed things down a little.” 

Crawford Bay celebrates its grads June 19 with J.V. Humphries in Kaslo concluding the Kootenay Lake graduation ceremony June 20.

“I was expecting blowback and disappointment of course,” says J.V. Humphries Counsellor Meleana Terlingen, “but this group is taking it in stride and nobody is singing the blues.”

JV Humphries has 22 graduates for 2020, many of whom have been choosing to come to the school since it has been slowly opening to focus on finishing their work.

“These students are resilient and have spoken up for what feels important to them,” said Principal Dan Rude.

A drive-in style ceremony has been planned, somehow suitable for the picturesque historic town.

Each grad and family will remain separated along the roadway in front of the school where students' names will be called over the sound system to come forward to receive their diploma and scholarship letters, take photos and then return to their car before the next student is called.

Local photographer Louis Bockner has stepped forward to record the ceremonies and speeches, as well as take professional photos of each student. Grad photos will also go on a banner display on Front Street in Kaslo.

“We talked about postponing until a later time,” said Terlingen, “but the students having been working hard towards this, and they are ready for their finale.” 

Outgoing principal at Mount Sentinel, Glen Campbell never envisioned his final graduation ceremony would be a virtual rendering of one, after having been a part of grad for the past 31 years at Mount Sentinel Secondary. — Submitted photo

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