‘Biggest milestone of our lives’: students upset over proposed graduation ceremony

By | June 1, 2020

WINNIPEG — It’s time for graduation, but with the pandemic still in place, the traditional walking across the stage is a no go.

Many schools are holding alternative graduation festivities.

Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) is holding smaller ceremonies over several days. The idea isn’t sitting well with everyone.

“We are very hurt to see what we are stuck with for our graduation this year, and we just want our voices to be heard,” said Ethan Papineau, a grade 12 student at Dakota Collegiate, a school part of the LRSD.

At J. H. Bruns Collegiate, another LRSD school, the proposed convocation ceremonies would take place from June 23-26. 

“As of right now, I can only bring my mom, dad and sister, and I’d have to sadly leave my [other] brothers and sisters at home,” said Umar Awan, a grade 12 student at J. H. Bruns Collegiate.

Due to the current public health orders, only 25 people can attend an indoor gathering. That means only six grads will walk the stage at each ceremony and can only have three guests present. 

“It’s tough growing up with all these people and being in classes with 30 or more people, to show up with six people that you might not even know or are close with,” said Papineau. 

Awan and Papineau have created a petition to hold the graduation outside or to postpone it for a few months.

As of Monday, the petition has more than 600 signatures.

“I think the support is coming from that we all want something that is safe for us,” said Awan. “So having it outside where the limit is larger like 50 people outside instead of 25 inside.”

“We are aware of the petition and continue to listen to questions and concerns,” Christian Michalik, the superintendent of the LRSD, said in a statement to CTV News. “We are also reaching out to students and their parents to continue a dialogue on graduation ceremonies.”

“To me, graduation is one of the biggest milestones of our lives, if not the biggest. You are coming from childhood and going into adulthood,” said Papineau. 

Awan said the school division reached out to him via email on Monday Afternoon. He said he is crafting a response that will include the thoughts and feelings of his classmates. 

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