Edmonton

Students get drive-by graduation celebration in Fort McMurray

The teachers and staff of Ecole McTavish Public High School in Fort McMurray surprised students this week with a graduation parade.

'It was kind of a hit of realization like, holy cow, we're graduating this year!'

From left to right, Asha Osman, Jocelyn Howe, Morgan Bouchard and Gwyneth Norris celebrated graduation this week with fellow students from Ecole McTavish Public High School. (Milena Skrbic)

Teachers and staff of Ecole McTavish Public High School in Fort McMurray surprised students this week with a graduation parade. 

It was the school's first graduating class, with 32 graduates this year. 

The teachers showed up to Joslynn Wyatt's house on Saturday, separate from the other parades, because she had to leave for Edmonton on Sunday to get surgery.

"It was actually super cute," said Wyatt. "They came around … blaring their horns and everything, and my principal came out. He handed me my cap and gown with a hockey stick."

She said it was emotional, especially since she hasn't seen her teachers in months. 

Wyatt will celebrate with her family on June 12, because that was the original date of graduation. 

"We're going to make it as normal as possible," she said.

Principal Scott Barr said the school wanted to find some way for students to remember grad positively. He said more than 30 staff members joined the parade. 

"We really have a family atmosphere at our school and we wanted those graduating students to know we're still thinking of them," he said.

Joslynn Wyatt had her own graduation parade, as she had to leave to get surgery in Edmonton. (Submitted by Joslynn Wyatt)

Barr said there's another event in the works but details haven't been decided. He said there will be a small graduation in June and next spring he will likely put together something else for the students as well. 

Gwyneth Norris said it was disappointing to find out she wouldn't have the graduation she had been expecting, but the teachers still made it feel special. 

This isn't the first time Norris has gone through a disrupted school year; she was part of the evacuation during the wildfire in 2016.

"It's definitely made school hard and it sucks that two major events happened," she said.

On Wednesday, Norris got to stand with her friends and throw their graduation caps in the air despite the pandemic. 

"It was kind of a hit of realization like, holy cow, we're graduating this year." 

Norris shared the experience with her long-time friend Morgan Bouchard, who said watching the teachers and staff drive down the street made the graduates feel "important and special." 

The staff signed specially made lawn signs for each student. 

And one education assistant brought Bouchard a bouquet of flowers. 

Morgan Bouchard, left, and Gwyneth Norris celebrated graduation on the front lawn. (Gareth Norris)

"I cried pretty quickly," she said. "It was an amazing moment.

"How many people can say they graduated in their front yard?" 

now