The Estevan Comprehensive School's (ECS) 2021 graduation will leave the community and even the entire province proud.
With all current health regulations in place, Estevan Comprehensive School graduates found a way not only to celebrate their milestone, but also to do it in a real Prairie style - with chic, elegance and on a grand scale, but also with semis and big pickups, along with Saskatchewan’s traditional wind gusts and even a little drizzle all working together to make this day unforgettable.
Hundreds of people – family, friends, teachers and community members – all gathered along the bubble parade route Saturday evening to celebrate the graduates of 2021.
"I've never seen that many people. It was so nice to see the smiles on the grads. It was a community event. Some people told me, the whole community got together for them. That's what it was all about. And businesses supported us. It was amazing what the Estevan community has done. And the kids had so much fun," shared Stacey Wempe, who was a part of the bubble parade planning committee.
Saturday started for most graduates with a stop at the ECS, where they picked up their diplomas and said good-bye to the school that was their home for the past several years. Then many went to Affinity Place where photographers were taking pictures of them with family and friends at elegantly decorated photo booths.
"I've never seen Affinity decorated so beautifully ... And the comments that I've been getting from people is how beautiful it was," Wempe said.
Throughout the day Deanna Brown, Wanda Harron, Prairie Perception Photography, Emma McKersie and Emily Tarnes were taking pictures to save the memories about the graduation.
The culmination of the day was the Class of 2021 Bubble Parade. Guided by police, gorgeous 2021 grad floats cruised up and down King Street and other roads to the cheers and applause of the crowd, wishing farewell to the beautiful class. Businesses decorated their storefronts, and people brought banners to celebrate the graduates.
Wempe stressed all supplies were purchased locally. The only exception was the balloons, which parents could only get enough of in Regina. The organizers and students decorated 19 floats on Friday, but in the end, only 18 partook in the event, as one was prepared just in case.
"I grew up with parades when I was in Lampman, so I used to decorate floats as a kid. And decorating is actually really hard, but it's also really fun. Kids and parents got really excited. It was a team effort," Wempe said.
And after long preparations, Saturday evening the semis and pickup trucks, driven by parents or local volunteers, lined up by the Power Dodge Curling Centre to get up to eight passengers each and head out into the community.
Organized in bubbles, grads could hang out with their friends, showcase their amazing outfits and also share their big holiday with the community. While it took endless hours on behalf of organizers and students, most of which were put in over the course of the last three weeks, Wempe said that the outcome was worth every effort.
"It took endless and countless hours of planning, putting this together, phoning businesses not only to use their trailers but also to use their shops. It took countless hours to put this all together. But it was well worth it ... It was amazing. The whole day was good," Wempe said.
The happiness from the event was even greater since up until a few weeks ago it wasn't clear if the students would be allowed to have any kind of celebration. So when it all came together it was a blast.
Wempe had experience with being on the grad organizing committee before the pandemic as well. She said that it was way easier to get everything done back then, but it seemed that the students enjoyed the new format even more. So she hopes that once the traditional ceremony can be brought back again, the parades will become a new addition to the graduation.
"The old way, it was only for the family, because you can only invite a certain number of people … because the Affinity only holds a certain amount of people. But this way, the whole community can be involved and it made these grads feel special for a day. And they still feel special the old way but this way, I think they get more involved. And the community gets more involved," Wempe said.
Wempe thanked the planning committee, consisting of Sandi McKersie, Tanja Gervais, Tricia Mackenzie, Trina Cherwenuk from A Loving Touch Florist and Tanya Andrist and all the parent volunteers. If not for them, the bubble parade would never come to being.
Pictures photographers took throughout the day will be uploaded to estevanclassof2021.com.