The Martensville High School (MHS) graduating class of 2020 will be celebrating their achievement in a different style this year due to restrictions that have been put in place following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because all of the regularly scheduled events had to be cancelled, the Principal of MHS, Paul McTavish, put out a call to the families of the graduates to see if there were any parents willing to meet and brainstorm ideas on alternate plans to celebrate the class of 2020.
From there, a group was created that worked together to find a safe way for students and spectators to take part in their special day. “We aligned the plan with the province’s ‘Guidance on Car-Based Drive-In Events’ guidelines. Our plan was quickly approved by the Saskatchewan Health Authority. We took our plan to the City of Martensville Council, and they have been tremendously supportive. They approved our plan and have donated funds towards our fireworks,” Jennifer Meikle, a member of the MHS Grad 2020 Parent Group, explained.
The plan that is currently in place consists of a fireworks show, which will take place on June 25th in Kinsmen Park followed by a Grad Procession on June 26th at 6pm (route can be seen on the poster to the left).
Numerous steps are being taken to ensure the safety of everyone. The route for the procession was purposefully made to be long to allow for many families to watch, and still be able to maintain physical distancing. The Grad Parent Committee is also asking those that will be attending the procession to physically distance themselves, and are confident that it will be an event that everyone will enjoy and people will take the necessary precautions. Additionally, there will be limits on the vehicle occupancy and hand sanitizer in each vehicle. Students will arrive in their chosen vehicle with their extended household contacts and the grads are not allowed to switch vehicles or pass items between vehicles. “The grads will be sent a health checklist days before the procession and they are to answer and determine if they are healthy enough to participate. We will supply masks, gloves and vests for our volunteers to help manage and mark the procession,” said Meikle.
There will also be photographers on site who will be in charge of taking pictures for all as an effort to limit families taking pictures near the high school so they can avoid having people congregate in the same space. “We are doing our very best to meet the criteria of the Saskatchewan Health Authority to keep this event a positive, healthy and safe celebration for all.”
Many students were upset that they would not be able to attend a grad ceremony, as that is a tradition each year; however Meikle noted that having spoken to a few of the graduates, they seem to be “excited to have something unique to mark this milestone in their life. It provides them an opportunity to see each other again and I know the girls are excited to show off those dresses! Many students have committed and I am hopeful that we can get all, if not most of the grads to make this celebration complete.”
Not only were students upset about the changes that took place this year, but the parents felt it as well. Having watched their children put in years of work towards this momentous occasion and then to be unable to watch their child receive their diploma was a tough pill to swallow. “The last few months have been difficult. My graduating daughter is my youngest and therefore my children’s school days are over. I have loved every track day, sports event and three-way conference. I was really excited about the final few months and we have been very excited about grad, and the thought of not marking the occasion did not feel ok at all,” said Meikle.
In addition to the fireworks and the procession, Meikle added that the staff at MHS is also putting together a virtual grad, which she is looking forward to watching. “We appreciate the work and time that it takes to put together a virtual ceremony. It will be part of our family celebration that day and the fact that we will see the students and celebrate with fireworks is definitely something to look forward to and to be proud of.”
“It has been a pleasure to work with such an enthusiastic, helpful and devoted group of parents. It has been a team effort and I am very proud of the plans and all the details thought of by this group to put this event together. I am looking forward to the night and marking this important milestone in our kids’ lives. I am also thankful to our High School staff for their virtual grad, our RCMP and Fire Departments who will lead and conclude our procession, our City Council and their support along with the support of a great community, who I know will be out to cheer on our kids (physically distancing) as they make their way through town as the Graduating Class of 2020!”