High School Grads

High School Grads Face Uncertainty

National Observer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Every June, the graduating classes of School District 72 gather on the ocean shoreline of Campbell River for a group portrait in their formal wear, just before prom.

Beforehand, couples or classmates do a fashion promenade along the park’s walkway, while friends, family, teachers and coaches snap photos of the students in their gowns and suits in the afternoon sun before they head off to their formal dinner.

But not this year.

420 High School Grads

In the COVID-19 era of physical distancing, the school district made official last week what students had been anticipating, and cancelled prom and its attendant group activities for the class of 2020.

Between Carihi Secondary, Timberline Secondary and Robron Centre, the district has approximately 420 students eligible for graduation this June.

“I Saw It Coming”

“I saw it coming, but it’s still disappointing,” said Carihi Secondary graduate Amelia Nimmon.

Of all the social events connected to graduation, the foreshore photo was the one the student from Quadra Island was looking forward to most.

“It’s been a tradition for a long time. It’s very celebratory and everyone is super excited and dressed up,” Nimmon said. “I just wanted to go because I would get to see everyone in their dresses, and take pictures with teachers and friends.”

“It’s so you can get those memories that last … even though it sounds a bit cheesy.”

Instead, Nimmon and childhood friend Ruby Nickoloff are starting to brainstorm plans for a smaller, modified and socially distant prom with close friends and dates somewhere outdoors later in the summer.

“Sort of a backyard prom,” said Nickoloff. “Just because we’re not having a normal prom, doesn’t mean not having a prom at all.”

Carihi Secondary grad Kailen Crosson says while prom being cancelled is disappointing, more important concerns around future employment and post-secondary schooling are hanging in the balance due to COVID-19. Photo: Rochelle Baker.

Bigger Things

​​​Carihi grad Kailen Crosson, who is on the graduation committee, said Grade 12 students went into the March spring break unaware there wouldn’t be any opportunity as a group to say goodbye to one another.

Not only prom, but also some of the school’s larger traditional social events, such as the annual grad dodge ball tournament, planned after spring break, were also cancelled.

Plus other big projects students had invested time and money into were also nixed, such as the theatre department’s production of the musical Newsies, said Crosson, who was stage manager for the show.

“It’s really disappointing that prom and graduation aren’t going to happen as milestones like they are supposed to,” Crosson said.

“But honestly, for me, there are so many bigger things that are hanging in the balance right now.”

Top photo credit: Childhood friends and Carihi Secondary grads Amelia Nimmon and Ruby Nickoloff were looking forward to the festivities of prom with their graduating class. But their celebrations are going to be much smaller this year due to COVID-19. Photo: Rochelle Baker

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