For the second year in a row, COVID-19 has curtailed graduation ceremonies, depriving many students of this normal rite of passage.
But high schools across Richmond once again rejigged their grad formats, many of them streaming them online after pre-recording grads walking across a stage to receive their Dogwoods.
Burnett secondary spent two days this past weekend filming their students in caps and gowns, and they plan to stream it Thursday for grads and their families to watch.
But some schools cancelled traditional celebrations, for example, McMath secondary cancelled its grad boat cruise and prom — something McMath 2021 grad Jasmine Veilleux missed doing — but made up for it with some smaller group activities.
Grad events included making tie-dyed T-shirts and doing a photo scavenger hunt.
And their ceremony was also pre-recorded and streamed online.
“It was well done and I enjoyed the speeches and students’ stories. I honestly didn’t mind chilling at home watching the video instead of attending a live ceremony at the Chan Centre,” said Veilleux.
She added graduating feels “liberating” and she’s ready to move on to new adventures.
“It was a fun ride but I’m looking forward to having more independence and for whatever comes next,” she said about her high school experience.
Future plans include attending UBC in the fall to study psychology.
In a statement to the Richmond News, Richmond school superintendent Scott Robinson extended his “sincere congratulations” on behalf of the Richmond School District to this year’s grads.
“After 13 years of hard work and personal growth, our graduates are standing on the threshold of exciting new pathways and opportunities,” Robinson said.
Meanwhile, at Cambie secondary, a special grad prize was donated by Applewood Auto Group, a Richmond dealership that has been doing a variety of events with the school for a couple years.
While some grads received cards and flowers, others scholarships — Cambie 2021 grad Isabella Sousa couldn’t believe her luck when she received a car to mark this milestone.
Cambie secondary Grade 12 students were asked to write an essay about what it would mean to get a car upon graduation.
The school staff then vetted the essays and drew a name from a couple dozen finalists.
Sousa was watching the ceremony from home at her dinner table when she heard she had won the car — a 2015 sky-blue four-door Nissan Versa Note. She was so excited, she lost her voice shouting for joy.
“It was a very surreal moment,” she said.
The car was donated by Applewood in a joint effort of three departments: the sales department donated the trade-in — which had only 80,000 kilometres on it — the parts department donated parts to fix it up and a senior mechanic donated his time to recondition the car.
Applewood has been involved with the school in different ways — doing Breakfast with Santa and helping with food drives.
But, given the extraordinary circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic, the dealership wanted to step it up a notch, explained general manager Leon Cheliadin.
“We wanted something more substantial, a little more sizeable, a little bigger impact, for the graduating class, knowing it’s been a really difficult year, couple years, for graduating students,” he said.
Sousa said the car will get her to work this summer — she is working at summer camps at City Centre Community Centre — and then to school in the fall when she starts her bachelor’s degree in arts at UBC.