P.E.I. high schools get the go-ahead for graduation, prom plans

As the season rolls around in another unusual year, high schools on P.E.I. are busy preparing for graduations and proms.

'We're making lemonade out of lemons here'

High school graduation, with its traditional ceremony, is a fundamental coming-of-age experience for many people. But for the grad class of 2021, like the class of 2020 before them, things are going to feel a little different. (Shutterstock)

As the season rolls around in another unusual year, high schools on P.E.I. are busy preparing for graduations and proms.

Public Schools Branch assistant director Erin Johnston says all of P.E.I.'s high schools have had their operational plans approved by the Chief Public Health Office to host in-person graduations. 

"The events really vary depending on the size of the school, the location of the school and how each school plans to tackle that," she said.

"I'm very pleased to say that all schools, their plans are set and their communication with their families has begun, and it's different again, like last year, and certainly will be an event to mark the milestones."

Similar to 2020

Last year P.E.I.'s high schools got creative with graduation ceremonies, like Colonel Gray holding a ceremony at the Brackley Drive-in. 

This year Johnston said there are no drive-ins ceremonies, but many schools are applying the lessons they learned last year.

"At a large school like Charlottetown Rural or Colonel Gray, they would have multiple ceremonies, for example, that occur throughout a day or over the course of two days in order to meet operational requirements of the gatherings in 50 or less or multiple groups of 50 or less, given the space of the school."

I'm just hoping that everything goes well.— Rachel VandenBroek, Montague prom organizer

She said some smaller school are hosting one or two ceremonies.

"I think we're in a very fortunate position here in P.E.I. in many ways," she said. "We're making lemonade out of lemons here."

Prom to go ahead in Montague

At Montague Regional High School, Rachel VandenBroek is busy planning an in-person prom, which also has an approved operational plan.

She first got the idea in January and has been working with her classmates, administrators and the CPHO to make it happen ever since.

Rachel VandenBroek is a Grade 12 student at Montague Regional High School. She stepped up and has been working to make the school's prom happen this year. (Submitted by Rachel VandenBroek)

"It was really important to me," she said. "Prom was one of those big events that we also wanted to have and I was a little worried at the beginning of the year."

There won't be a dance, but there will be a walkthrough on the Montague boardwalk, split up into cohorts. It gives the grads the opportunity to get dressed up and take pictures.

VandenBroek said that was the important part for her and her classmates.

"Each grad will have two spectators and then they will just walk down the boardwalk and that'll be the extent of it, but I know what grads wanted was the boardwalk," she said.

"That's kind of the memories we're going for."

The current plan is to have the group go in two cohorted waves, but it could be adjusted should restrictions loosen or tighten in the coming weeks.

"I am a little worried," she said. "Just as we're getting close and with the COVID cases rising on the Island, it can either go one way or the other. So I'm just hoping that everything goes well."

The prom is scheduled for June 17.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Angela Walker


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