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LETTER: CCI student disappointed in grad ceremony plans

Student lays out proposal for outdoor ceremonies that allow for physical distancing and mask wearing
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The following letter is in response to outdoor graduation ceremonies. You can read more about the announcement and school board reaction here.
CollingwoodToday.ca welcomes letters to the editor. They can be sent to erika@collingwoodtoday.ca.

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My name is Emma Beckett and I am part of the graduating class of Collingwood Collegiate Institute.

Many important milestones were torn from my fellow classmates and me this year. Prom and graduation are a few of the many milestones I have been looking forward to since elementary school but were taken away due to the pandemic.

Like almost everyone else, I have older cousins, friends and neighbours. When it was time for each of these individuals to graduate high school, I counted the years until it was my turn to walk the stage and receive my diploma, knowing it was a long ways away.

If I would’ve known at the beginning of Grade 9 that two of the most important years of my life were to be ripped away almost instantly, I wouldn’t have taken my first two years of high school for granted.

The past year and a half has taken a toll on my mental health.

I'm wondering why my hard work over the past four years will only be acknowledged and rewarded with a loot bag and a picture in the bus loop.

Is this what I deserve? Did I not work hard enough? Could I have pushed myself more? Did the sleepless nights I spent crying over a math test mean nothing?

When Doug Ford announced last week he was allowing outdoor graduations, a small bit of hope lit up inside me. When everything you were looking forward to over the past year and a half gets cancelled, a small bit of hope goes a long way, especially for an 18-year-old.

For once in a long time, I felt almost excited for something. Would I finally be able to see my friends properly? Say goodbye to everyone before we go our separate ways?

The answer to my questions was a resounding no.

When CCI declared they would not be participating in an outdoor graduation ceremony, it crushed not only me but every other student graduating high school this year. We were counting on this. We were counting on this one thing to make our senior year of high school worth it.

For you, this might be just another year, but for us, it’s much more than that. You had the opportunity to do the right thing for your senior high school students but you chose against it, despite having the approval from Doug Ford. 

Graduation ceremonies could safely be done by following the proper school and pandemic protocols listed below: 

  1. On our school’s football field, we could easily sit six feet away from other students along with wearing proper face masks. 
  2. Covid screening protocols including a temperature check would be put in place.
  3. We would livestream the event so no guests would be physically present.
  4. For larger groups of seniors, there could be two different ceremonies. An a.m. and a p.m. Students could sign up for a ceremony using Google Forms. This way students would be able to graduate with their friends and/or classroom cohorts.

Overall, I would like to say I’m extremely disappointed in this decision and I hope you will re-consider and allow covid-safe outdoor graduations. The graduating class of 2021 is counting on you. 

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