What’s playing at the local drive-in?

While the response to this question might normally be the title of the latest Hollywood blockbuster, the most common reply this year is, ‘Grad 2021’.

As things currently stand, graduation ceremonies will indeed be going ahead at high schools throughout the Northwest this year, but COVID-19 restrictions will require them to stray somewhat from what most people would consider to be traditional.

“Right now we have a tentative plan,” explained Brad Freyman, principal at Ernie Studer School in Loon Lake. “We’ve picked June 4 and have a backup date as well considering so many things are still uncertain. If nothing were to change between now and then, we’re looking at a drive-in ceremony. We only have seven graduates this year, and we have a group booked from Saskatoon who will come in and set up a video screen, as well as an FM station and broadcast everything we do into people’s vehicles. It truly will be a drive-in situation.”

Normally, ESS’ grad takes place in May.

“We’ve actually pushed our grad back to June to give us a little more time to be sure of what is happening and what we will be allowed to do,” Freyman added, noting the need to change things up somewhat does make for a unique and exciting situation. “For me, it can be a little exciting to do something different, but it’s hard on the kids and on the parents. It’s hard on them because so much is still unknown – they have hair appointments booked, photographers, they’re trying to get family lined up and those kind of things. There are definitely some obstacles there, but maybe there are some things we can do a little bit differently and keep doing in the future as well.”

Meanwhile, a similar type of ceremony will take place June 11 for the 19 grads at Pierceland Central School.

“We plan to hold a drive-in graduation at this point in time,” noted principal Terry Fortune. “Of course, that could change depending on if any regulations change, but that is what we have tentatively scheduled at this time.”

Goodsoil Central School has 10 grads this year with the ceremony scheduled for May 29.

“We normally have a May grad, and our grad parents wanted to stay with a May grad,” stated principal Karen Hofer. “We will be doing a drive-in ceremony. Everything will be outside our school in the parking lot area. We have a campground adjacent to the school, so we will also be using part of that.”

Traditionally, the GCS grad is held at the local community hall.

“It really is a community event, Hofer said. “Last year we were hoping the restrictions would be minimized by the end of June. Then, we thought we could do it by the end of September and that too fell through and we ended up doing a virtual grad.”

Recently, as part of the province’s Reopen Saskatchewan plan, new guidelines were announced for graduation ceremonies. Outdoor graduations are limited to 30 guests (assuming two guests per graduate for a total of 45 graduates and guests), with an additional maximum of five teachers/support staff.  Virtual graduations are permitted with no more than 30 graduates attending in-person and all guests attending virtually.

The guidance for graduations scheduled for the month of June, however, will be re-evaluated May 17. Guidance will be reviewed based on the COVID-19 situation in the province, including positive cases and the rates of immunization.

by Phil Ambroziak