Burnaby grads make the best out of a bizarre situation

Burnaby’s Class of 2020 is making the best of a bizarre situation this week celebrating high school graduation amid a global pandemic.

On Tuesday evening at 7 p.m., video of virtual grad ceremonies for schools across the district went live, complete with speeches from school officials, recognition for each grad, musical presentations and, of course the valedictorians’ addresses.

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“Without a doubt, 2020 is a year that no one will soon forget,” said superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen.

In her address, she talked about how her own stepdaughter had gone for the final fitting on her grad dress exactly one week before the pandemic was declared in March.

Niccoli-Moen didn’t sugar-coat the situation and touched on many of the things this year’s grads have missed out on. Then she praised them for their resilience.

“Within tragedy I watched with deep gratitude and admiration as you used your voice and leadership to make the best of this situation…,” she said.

“…I’m so sorry that I cannot see your faces or shake your hands. Please know of the pride that this community and this school district has for each one of you. You will forever share the bond of being a part of the Class of 2020.”

Besides the videos of the virtual grad, which school district officials began scrambling to arrange after in-class instruction was suspended in March, each high school has also arranged its own celebrations to mark K-12 milestone.

Instead of the big crowds and full grad classes that usually take over Bill Copeland Arena every spring, grads are participating in smaller, socially distanced events at their own schools, complete with professional photographers on hand as well as opportunities for families and friends to snap photos of graduates accepting their school leaving certificates.

Burnaby Mountain Secondary graduates went first, walking the stage last week, and then donning their finery and driving in a grad parade from Lougheed Mall on Wednesday evening.

Burnaby South grads took to the Michael J. Fox Theatre Monday to accept their certificates.

Byrne Creek hosted its celebration in the school’s atrium on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Alpha and Burnaby Central grads walked the stage, with Central hosting an outdoor event at the school, featuring a DJ and red carpet.

Moscrop grads take the stage today, and Burnaby North and Cariboo Hill will host their respective events on Friday.

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