Thunder Bay·Updated

Postponing prom for class of 2020?: Thunder Bay high schools look for ways to celebrate graduating students

It's unlikely students graduating from high school in Thunder Bay, Ont., this year will be walking across a stage to receive their diplomas, or getting all dressed up for prom.

Catholic, public boards rethinking commencement ceremony and dances, virtual events possible

A group of students graduating from St. Patrick High School in Thunder Bay, Ont., in 2019 celebrated their success at the city's waterfront. The class of 2020 won't be celebrating the same way because of the physical distancing protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, both the Catholic and public school boards are looking for creative ways to mark the students' achievements. ( Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board)

It's unlikely students graduating from high school in Thunder Bay, Ont., this year will be walking across a stage to receive their diplomas, or getting all dressed up for prom.

The Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board (TBCDSB)  Friday, issued a media release Friday explaining that large group gatherings will not be possible, and convocation ceremonies at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium will not be taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated orders and physical distancing protocols.

However, "we are currently working with our graduation committees on creative plans," said Pino Tassone, the TBCDSB director of education.

"We will recognize our students, their accomplishments and their future successes," he added.

Families with Lakehead Public Schools (LPS) were informed by the board on May 6 that all secondary school commencement ceremonies and graduation dances had been postponed, noting the decision had been made after extensive deliberations with school administrators and boards across Ontario.

But the board has not ruled out having some form of virtual convocation event.

"Our schools are committed to providing some form of these special ceremonies and celebrations for students. All efforts will be made to determine alternate dates for graduation activities," stated Ian MacRae, the LPS director of education.

School and board scholarships, awards, and bursaries will still be determined in June, he said.

Both MacRae and Tassone noted that COVID-19 has disrupted the plans of many people and organizations and schools are no exception.

They advised that the timing and type of future graduation events depends on the status of the pandemic and associated public health guidelines.

"Thank you for your ongoing patience and perseverance throughout this very difficult time," concluded MacRae.

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