One of the biggest factors in graduation style this year in Slave Lake area is grad class size.
With only five grads, Slave Lake Koinonia Christian School will be holding a family only outdoor grad with under 50 people.
Whereas Roland Michener Secondary School has more than 50 grads, and is holding a grad parade.
With 10 grads, St. Francis of Assisi is celebrating grad with a series of connected events, which will culminate in a virtual grad and parade.
The first step was June 5, which was porch pictures of all of the grads, says St. Francis principal Angie White. In a normal year, graduation would be held on June 6.
Then on June 10, the grads each get a chance to walk down the aisle in cap and gown. At the time, grad photos will also be taken. There is also a green screen for a cap toss. These individual cap tosses will combined into one composite shot of all the grads. Various dignitaries, who would normally give speeches at the graduation, will record speeches ahead of time.
The virtual grad will be June 20 at 2 p.m., says White. It will be like a drive-in. Each family will receive a USB and program. At a set time, they will watch the grad.
At 3 p.m., the graduates in cap and gown will walk next to vehicles in a parade on Main Street from 7-Eleven to the ATB.
Lisa Palko is the principal of both Roland Michener Secondary School and Lakeside Outreach School in Slave Lake. The two schools will be celebrating with a joint grad parade and signs in the boulevard on Saturday, June 27.
The parade starts at 1 p.m. at Michener. The route hasn’t been set, but will likely follow something similar to the Easter Bunny parade.
The bunny went down every street in Slave Lake for Easter. The estimated trip was to be two hours, but took over four.
In a normal year, the two schools have had separate grads, says Palko. Michener fills the 1,000 seat Gathering Place.
The number of grads from Lakeside varies each year. In 2019, there were two grads. In 2018, it had 16 grads.
In 2020, the approximate total between the two schools is 75 grads, says Palko. As this is more than the 50 person limit for outdoor gatherings, there was no option for getting even just the grad class together.
In a normal year, Palko organizes the afternoon academic ceremony and parents and grads plan the dinner or dance afterward.
Joy McGregor is a parent of one of the grads. She was all set to be the head parent in the grad organizing committee. Instead, she and Palko joined forces to come up with some way to honour the graduates.
During COVID-19, parades have become popular ways to celebrate. There have been various birthday parades over the last months.
The idea of putting the grad photos onto poster size signs, came from another community. Palko doesn’t remember which one.
These photos will be put in the boulevard on the south end of Main Street, where the bulk of the political campaign signs are put.
Palko hopes that community members will make signs and stand on the end of their driveways to cheer on the graduates.
Slave Lake Koinonia Christian School is also holding its graduation on June 27. The time will likely be different from Michener’s grad, so that the Koinonia students and staff can cheer on the Michener grads.
Koinonia has permission from Alberta Health Services to have an outdoor grad with the five families, says principal Elizabeth Lund. At the event, physical distancing will be maintained. There will be no food or drinks.
Lund and others will give speeches. Each graduate will receive a bouquet of balloons attached to their certificate.
Edie Klassen will take the grad photos at the event, as the grad photos hadn’t been taken before COVID-19 hit.
The girls didn’t have a chance to go grad dress shopping, says Lund, so caps and gowns will be worn for the whole ceremony. After the grad, graduates and their families will celebrate with meals in their individual homes.