Skip to content

COLUMN: Local students deserved outdoor graduation this year

Virtual graduations were the norm this year at high schools in Midland and Penetanguishene; something columnist Rebekah McKinnon says wasn't the best option

With a year passing since we first began lockdown last March, we have made immense progress towards vaccines and COVID-19 protocols, but are still struggling with being unable to see family and friends face-to-face again.

We have already had our first Drive Thru graduation in 2020 and, sadly, did not have a normal celebration.

Being in a Grade 12 class at St. Theresa’s, I had heard from multiple students that they were concerned that the same will happen for them and sadly they were disappointed this year as well.

This begs the question: Should it have been an outdoor grad ceremony this year due to low COVID cases and the majority of people now being vaccinated? Or was it better to still have the same predicament as last year?

And like St. Theresa's Catholic High School's graduation Tuesday evening, similar virtual ceremonies were held at Midland’s Georgian Bay District Secondary School and at École secondaire Le Caron in Penetanguishene.

Many wished to be able to graduate with classmates outdoors but with social distance protocols in place. I completely agree that the new graduates should have been given the chance to attempt a somewhat normal ceremony.

Hearing how disappointed graduates were last year that they couldn’t stand side by side made me empathize with them.

I believe that if proper measures had been put in place and that there were small groups outdoors that it would have been a perfect ceremony. They should have been given this chance as a reward for all of their hard work during this pandemic, as I know personally many have been stressed physically, emotionally and mentally.

Not only did they deserve this, but they needed it for their sanity and hope that things will get better.

Many students are close to giving up because of how long we have been stuck in the same predicament for a year. They all needed this graduation to have motivation to do school work and to have something to look forward to.

This opinion was shared by most grade 12 students I have spoken to. Graduates wanted to be able to look their teachers in the eye and shake hands (or touch elbows) with them to thank them for all of their help for the past four years.

I understand why the decision was made, but I believe that those students earned their outdoor graduation ceremony.

Rebekah McKinnon is entering Grade 12 at St. Theresa's Catholic High School in Midland.