Calgary Minecraft player creates virtual ceremony for Calgary high school grads

When Keon Zarabi realized graduation ceremonies weren’t going to happen, he dove into the world of Minecraft to create his own.

COVID-19 prevented students from graduating in person

Keon Zarabi created a virtual BMO replica in Minecraft, including the room students were due to graduate in. (Submitted by Keon Zarabi)

When Keon Zarabi realized graduation ceremonies weren't going to happen, he dove into the world of Minecraft to create his own.

Zarabi recently graduated from Robert Thirsk High School but like thousands of students, his ceremony to mark the academic milestone was cancelled due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

"We were pretty devastated, me and all my friends, when graduation was cancelled," said Zarabi.

"Since the outbreak, everything has been online: shopping, workouts, school, so I thought, why not celebrate graduation online?"

Calgary student Keon Zarabi wanted to create an online place to gather with friends to mark their graduation. (Submitted by Keon Zarabi.)

So Zarabi put his computer skills to use and built a world where he and his friends could all meet online.

Minecraft is a pixelated video game that allows players to explore and build generated worlds in different modes, constructing buildings and 3D landscapes out of blocks.

Using Minecraft, Zarabi built a replica of Calgary's BMO Centre, complete with a function room and stage that students' characters in the game can cross, to receive a diploma.

People from anywhere in the world can join his server and take part.

They even get a diploma displayed on screen with their player name and a message of congratulations from Zarabi.

"It's super fun, my friends have all had a lot of fun, you can click the button and get your diploma in the Palomino Room," Zarabi said, which is where the real ceremony was due to take place.

"I was still doing my high school classes when I started this back in May and I also had to rely on my memory of how the BMO Centre looked, but I also searched the floor plan to base it off that too," said Zarabi.

He also had to learn how to run a server on his computer, scouring YouTube tutorials and learning from scratch.

It took around two months of work.

The server is up and running for anyone who wants to play at with the port number 19132

Zarabi says students who want to join can add a server in the servers section of Minecraft before typing the address and then adding the port number.

Zarabi is headed to the University of Calgary later this year to study towards a degree in commerce.


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