ESTEVAN - The Estevan Comprehensive School’s graduation ceremony is going to look closer to what people have seen in the past, but this year’s grad is also going to incorporate an event from last year.
The annual community celebration of the school’s Grade 12 students will take place on June 18, starting with the cap and gown celebration at Affinity Place at 2 p.m. There will be the tributes and speeches associated with grad, and then diplomas will be presented to the 156 kids scheduled to graduate.
“It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate the graduates, as always,” said ECS vice-principal Brian Wright. “We’re very blessed with the grads and the students that we have at our school, and it’s wonderful to be able to honour those kids that have put in the work and the effort and managed to graduate.”
Wright noted the school proposed to have the celebration at the school’s cafetorium, which has been renovated to include a new sound system, new lights and new flooring, but the decision was made to have it at Affinity Place. Grad has long been held outside of the school to accommodate all of the people who want to attend.
“The parents and the graduates spoke up very loudly and said they wanted it to be at Affinity,” said Wright.
The plan was always to have an in-person cap and gown ceremony, barring any changes in COVID-19 restrictions. Last year’s grad saw students pick up their diplomas at the school.
Jennifer Olfert, who co-chairs the grad parent committee with Cathy Empey and Trinda Jocelyn, is looking forward to seeing a grad at Affinity Place.
“We’re so lucky that we have this facility that we can use,” said Olfert. “Not many communities have a facility like ours. So to be able to go in there and bring like that back, it’s almost like this is one step closer to for us to feel that much more back to the way it used to be.”
She’s looking forward to seeing all of the family members in attendance and enjoying grad.
One of the highlights of the celebration, the annual grad photo in front of the Estevan Court House, will happen after the cap-and-gown ceremony wraps up, if the weather co-operates.
The grand march, which has been part of grad in the past, won’t be happening this year due to time constraints.
The grad parade will return this year and will start at 7 p.m. The route, which will be printed in the Mercury as the event draws closer, will follow the same path as the inaugural edition in 2021, with the graduates starting at the Estevan Leisure Centre and making their way through the northeast end of town to the Estevan Comprehensive School.
“The main reason we decided that [to bring it back] was we wanted to include all of our community. Lots of people maybe can’t come and sit for the amount of time that it takes to do the ceremony. And then this way, everybody gets to see the kids that are graduating in their gowns.”
Other people might not want to come to the ceremony if they have young kids, because it’s a lot for them as well.
“Our grads aren’t just about the grads themselves, it’s the community that has helped them get to where they are, so we just really wanted to be able to display our grads and show our grads we are proud of them, as well as how grateful we are to our community to help us get our kids to where they are,” said Olfert.
The kids will get to be on a float with their friends while wearing their finest clothes, to the delight of the community.
Once the parade is finished, a safe grad celebration will happen at the farm of one of the graduates, giving the Class of 2022 one last chance to celebrate together. Olfert said there will be games, a DJ playing music and a bunch of fun activities for the kids. Parents will be providing supervision.
COVID-19 restrictions have prevented a traditional cap and gown ceremony from proceeding the past two years. The parade was held last year to celebrate the grads, while a grad cruise occurred in 2020.
Olfert said the response shown by the community to the cruise and the parade played a big factor in the parade’s return.
“The kids have talked to other grads from the previous year that did the parade, and the kids really enjoyed it. And I think our grads that watched the parade last year enjoyed watching it and want to be able to display themselves, too,” said Olfert.