Graduation: Better Late Than Never!

Better late than never are the best words to describe Holy Redeemer’s Graduation. The Ceremony, which was supposed to take place last June, finally took place on October 10th, and it was perfect from start to finish.
The HRH Grad is usually held in early June, but like many events over the past seven months, was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“It was a very difficult decision to make,” says Principal Betty Churchill, who mentioned that it is
always an honour to celebrate the graduation class. “But we asked our students back in the spring if they wish to have a virtual Grad in June, or wait to have a full Grad in the fall if restrictions are lifted.” Churchill added that over 80% of Grads voted to proceed with a fall Grad, so that is exactly what the school worked toward.
The planning of the Grad Ceremony was swift and organized, taking into account all of the
COVID protocols from Alberta Health Services and the School Division. “We were not allowed more than 100 people in attendance,” says Churchill. “So, we made the best of it and made the event very special for our Grads and their parents.” The event was even livestreamed live from the HRH gymnasium on the school’s Facebook page for everyone who could not be in attendance.
Teacher Paul Tobin served as the Masters of Ceremonies for the event that saw Grads and their parents sit physically distanced apart wearing masks as per AHS guidelines. Several dignitaries gave speeches to the Grads including Churchill, Living Waters Vice-Chair Gemma Christie, and Associate Superintendent Courtney Lawrence. Father Thomas Basini led the Ceremony in prayer, taking note of the special challenges these Grads faced to get to this moment in their lives. Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara and Yellowhead County Mayor Jim Eglinski also joined the Ceremony through pre-recorded messages to the Grads shown on the big screen.
In addition, local Indigenous artist Matricia Bauer gave the history of the feathers presented to the five graduating Indigenous students.
The main event of the afternoon ceremony came when the students who officially awarded their high school diplomas. “This is the part everyone looks forward to,” says Tobin. “It symbolizes the transition from student to graduate.” Each graduate received huge applause as they crossed the stage to receive their high school diploma from Mrs. Churchill. “This moment was a long time coming,” added Tobin speaking to the Grads. “Watching this shows all of your hard work has been fully recognized and each of you should be incredibly proud.”
After the ceremony, the Grads walked outside to gather together for photos, especially the
traditional cap toss, that was celebrated by all of the parents in attendance. From there, the Grads all went their separate ways as they continue on with the next chapter in their lives.
Overall, the day went extremely well. It was certainly different than previous Graduation
Ceremonies, but it did not diminish the meaning behind this special day.
And like many events held in 2020, this one that will go down in the books as one for the ages.