Calgary Grade 12 students 'disappointed' grad cancelled, hope for modified celebration
Calgary's public and Catholic school boards nix graduation events due to COVID-19
The Calgary class of 2021 will not be getting the well-deserved hurrah after 12 years of education.
Both the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District have decided to cancel grad ceremonies and parties because of COVID-19.
Bryan Szumlas, chief superintendent of the Catholic school board, said the decision is about ensuring safety.
"Safety of our students, safety of our family and safety of our staff, and because of the COVID-19 restrictions that are in place right now," he said.
"And these things are such a big event that planning starts at the beginning of the school year. Knowing where we're at right now, it's just not possible to put these things together."
Christopher Usih, chief superintendent with the CBE, said he understands students are disappointed.
"Certainly as a parent I know what I felt like for my daughter, who was not able to have a formal graduation. So I know that this is very important for families," he said.
Both school boards said they are now brainstorming ways to celebrate and recognize the milestone in a safe way. But the students are disappointed.
What students think
Dominic Del Rosario, a Grade 12 student at Notre Dame High School, and Abbie Seto, a Grade 12 student at Sir Winston Churchill High School, talked to The Homestretch about their disappointment on grad being cancelled.
Seto said she had always dreamed about celebrating the event with friends.
"It definitely was shocking and sad because you didn't really expect it last year. When I heard the news of previous Grade 12s having their grads cancelled, I was like, 'OK, I feel bad for them.' And little did I know one year later I would be experiencing the same thing," she said.
She said she hopes she is still able to celebrate the moment on a smaller scale come June.
"My friends and I, we did actually plan to go out and pick our dresses from somewhere in like April or May, but obviously seeing this whole situation, we didn't get to do that."
Rosario said he wasn't surprised to hear the news.
"I mean, because especially with the cases going up, I was kind of expecting something like this again," he said.
"If some guidelines loosened, we might be able to, like, get together outside or something."
He says that it's been a hard year with classes being jam-packed with information and some school sports being cancelled.
"The grad was kind of the one thing that I think most people were hoping we'd be able to do still," he said.
Seto, who takes classes online, echoed that sentiment and said it's been a challenging year.
"I'm kind of sad because I don't get to actually have the full-on senior high school experience with my friends because I'm doing Hub online."
In order to keep up with her social life, she said she catches up with her friends daily over phone calls.
"Without physical interaction with them every day, it's hard for me to stay focused. And another thing is I try is to walk around the house and or like hopefully take a walk outside … it's honestly really tiring and draining to just sit at your computer," she said.
Right now, both students are trying to look ahead and be excited about post-secondary.
"I'm trying to play post-secondary basketball, and that's kind of hard, especially with the no season. But my programs I'm looking into are like computer science," said Rosario.
- Watch 2020 grad class experience drive-thru grad below:
With files from Lucie Edwardson and The Homestretch.