Drive-through graduation ceremony in the works for Port Coquitlam grads

Outdoor graduation scheme is one of several under consideration by SD43 administrators, parents and students looking for a physical distance solution during the COVID-19 pandemic

Terry Fox secondary students may be getting a drive through graduation ceremony so they can walk a red carpet, collect their diploma and have their picture taken at a stage set up outside the school.

Parents will still have to stay in the car and take photos from their vehicle but the drive-through idea is gaining support.

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It’s one of a number of modified ceremonies being planned across School District 43 to honour graduates who can’t gather in large groups because of COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

Plans are still in motion at the Port Coquitlam school but a letter to parents this week confirmed the outdoor idea while parents and students who lobbied for formal recognition are grateful for the social-distancing solution.

“It’s a lot better than the original plan. It’s great they are are making an effort,” said Madison Raybould, a Grade 12 student who plans to attend Randolph College for the Performing Arts in Toronto in the fall.

Although she can’t mingle with friends or do the popular grad hat toss at the end of the ceremony, the drive-through event in which cars line up at a pre-set time and students walk the carpet and stage alone will be unique, and something to mark the milestone, she said.

Fox is not alone in trying to come up with a ceremony after SD43 cancelled official school events to comply with provincial health orders. Each student will be given a package of mementoes, including a printed grad program, a photo collage and slideshow or video.

However, board chair Kerri Palmer Isaak, an Anmore/Belcarra trustee, said a number of schools are working out details for additional acknowledgement because of interest from parents who want to recognize their graduating student’s accomplishments.

“Schools are going to be creative and come up with out-of-the box solutions,” Palmer Isaak said.

Also working on a grad recognition ceremony is Heritage Woods secondary in Port Moody which plans to allow students to walk alone across the school stage dressed in cap and gown for a photo and video.

Some of the events are modelled after similar grad ceremonies at North and West Vancouver high schools, whose officials are are working with a Port Moody school photography company.

Kelly Chernoff of Grads BC Photography and Video Inc. said she realized quickly her business would have to pivot to provide alternative services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with schools on the north shore and the Tri-Cities, she’s come up with solutions that will allow students to have some semblance of a ceremony.

“We had created something that was working within the school system’s parameters so we can give those grads, after 13 years of effort, something to let them know we appreciate them and so they get some acknowledgement,” said Chernoff.

At Terry Fox, where a drive-through ceremony will give kids a photo and a snapshot in time, the class of 2020 will be unique, just like its hometown hero namesake.

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