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'A day to celebrate': Port Coquitlam grads get their special photo moment from a drone

Terry Fox secondary school parents get creative in giving their school's graduating students a photo opportunity to remember as Port Coquitlam launches grad week initiatives

Hundreds of Terry Fox graduating students gave up their baseball hats, hoodies and leggings for suits and cocktail dresses to get their photos taken Wednesday.

But instead of squeezing together in a school gym, theatre or dinner dance to get a selfie with friends, the well-dressed teens stood in small groups in the parking lot.

They looked up to a drone camera that buzzed above them alike a giant bee, and waved, creating the ultimate grad group photo for their memory books.

“You’re looking COVID sharp,” joked principal Dave Starr, as he directed the students to stay a minimum of six feet apart in line with COVID-19 protocols.

This is the second year Fox grads — along with thousands of other Coquitlam area Grade 12 students — have had their big grad parties and celebrations cancelled due to the pandemic.

But for parent Lisa Currier, it was important to give students something to remember their high school years and she said a drone group photo seemed like a good idea.

“These kids have been here for four years,” said Currier, “It was a day to celebrate.”

With Jonnie Graham of 3D Immersive donating his time and the drone, students filed out of the school in their learning cohorts to stand safely apart in the parking lot, lacrosse box, school field and tennis court to get their picture taken.

“You’re the best dressed group,” Graham told one group of sharply-dressed students, many of whom smiled at the compliment.

Not everyone wore formal dress; some students chose to wear their every-day gear while others dressed to the nines, including Kassie Grinwis, who wore a form-fitting red dress that dropped to her ankles.

“It’s nice to dress up,” she acknowledged.

Like many students Grinwis had hoped COVID-19 protocols would have been lifted by June — she had four fancy dresses ready to go for grad.

Still, she was pleased to be able to participate in the group photo shoot: “It’s amazing. It gives us an opportunity to share graduation together. It makes us feel like we’re accomplishing something.”

Massimo Currier said it was nice to be able to celebrate with his friends safely.

“I think it’s a good way to commemorate grade while still being safe.”

While graduation is quieter this year, efforts to make it special are still taking place.

On Tuesday, Port Coquitlam council acknowledge high school graduates with a proclamation.

Other initiatives include:

• Posting a congratulatory message in the Tri-City News and on city-owned transit shelters, the underpass on Shaughnessy Street and digital billboards starting this week.

• Lighting up city hall in each of the five secondary school colours (Terry Fox Secondary, Riverside Secondary, Archbishop Carney, École des Pionniers and BC Christian Academy) during the week of June 14.

• Posting a video message from mayor and council on the city’s social media channels.

• Encouraging residents to post congratulatory messages on their social media using #pocograd2021 and a “Port Coquitlam 2021 Grad” Facebook profile photo frame.

• Providing downloadable Congrats Grad 2021 signs for residents and businesses to post at portcoquitlam.ca/grad21

• Sharing congratulatory messages from mayors, city council and school trustees.

The full proclamation can be viewed at portcoquitlam.ca/councilmeetings.

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