2020 graduations will be memorable

Flat decks are in high demand

June 2020 graduation will be one to remember as administration, parents, teachers, and students prepare to celebrate this rite of passage despite COVID-19 restrictions on gathering sizes and social distancing.

At outdoor ceremonies parents will witness students receiving their certificates and, in some cases, parents will even turn the tassel.

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On June 24, Virden Collegiate will award 72 students their diplomas and Virden Collegiate Principal Mark Keown is pleased to report on grad plans which include an about town drive.

“We weren’t sure about a month ago, but we are going to have a graduation,” he said with a note of triumph.

The students and their family will park at the main entrance of the collegiate.

“Every grad is assigned a time. They and their families can pull up to our front entrance. We will have some red carpet rolled out. At our presentation area we will be awarding them diplomas, scholarships, sports and citizenship awards plus their major V awards,” Keown explained.

Sports awards, normally held on a different evening, will be part of that bundle of presentations. (Grade 9 – 11 sports awards will be presented during the fall semester.)

The process will take most of the day with the first grad scheduled for 9:15 a.m. The final grad is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. If it rains, the presentations will take place in the gym.

“Parents can exit their vehicles, as long as they maintain social distancing, and take pictures, whoop and holler while their grad is getting their materials.”

All graduates have selected their own grad songs to be played during their presentation. An official photographer and a videographer will be covering the presentations. School staff will be part of the process, but their roll will be limited. 

“We’re also working on having the graduation livestreamed so that grandparents can view it from the safety of their own home.”

Speeches from the valedictorian, the parent-student tribute, student council president and Principal Keown will be recorded separately, probably ahead of the graduation presentations.

“That’s going to be added to a video keepsake that all the grads will be able to have, forever,” said Keown. 

The traditional 5 p.m. group grad photo may need to be split into groups.

The safe grad committee is organizing a “cruise about town” for the grad class. Grads in their special dresses and suits will be clearly visible as they travel on flat decks, float-style, through out Virden. (See the parade route, page 10.)



Nine students will graduate from Elkhorn School in a ceremony on June 20 at 2 p.m. The plans come just before the potential entry in to Phase 3, but they have been a while in the making and Principal Lance Barrate says the school will proceed with outdoor plans.

“Its nice that we will be able to do something for our students as a conclusion for their year.”

In Elkhorn Memorial Park, chairs will be provided for the invited guests. The guest list is limited to 50, with the graduates and school principal spaced out on the flat deck stage.

Outside the immediate area other observers, not counted as guests, will be required to follow distancing guidelines.

Trident Music Inc. will provide sound and a video record of the event. One, and maybe two big screens in the park will provide coverage for onlookers. Additionally, livestream video will enable the community to celebrate along with the grads and the recording will serve as a keepsake for the graduates.

If the weather is bad, the ceremony will move into the Elkhorn rink.

“I think everybody will be happy if we can do it outside,” said Barrate. Immediate family, school staff and division representatives are the invited guests.

Students have chosen Tristen Shiner the Student Council President to deliver the valedictorian speech.

Two parents, Cindy Soder and Jolene Toder will speak for the parents.

Elkhorn doesn’t hold a cap and gown ceremony but the eight young men and one young gal will have on their spiffy graduation-best and from the central location of Elkhorn’s park, students may take a stroll through town.



To celebrate the year end, and the Grade 8’s final year at Miniota, the K-8 school has planned to have closing ceremonies via zoom on June 24.

“We will be doing our regular ceremony as best we can, using the online format. It is going to be a closed ceremony meaning that we are asking that only the immediate families of our students attend,” says school principal Trevor Lewis.

“On June 25, parents and students can come by the school throughout the day to pick up their end of the year packages.”  These will contain their certificates and awards that the students received during the ceremony, their report card and other general materials that are sent home at the close of the school year.



Reston School Principal Dan Kristof said last week the school’s graduation exercises will take place at the Reston Fair Grounds on June 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Grads and their invited guests - five vehicles and 16 people - will attend.

Students will be called up one by one and receive their awards, honor cord, and diploma. These will be presented by their parents who will also move their tassels in the cap and gown ceremony.

Kristof said, “We are planning to have a valedictorian and a Governor General award winner at the service. 

Students have special plans which may include a meal prior to the grad ceremony where toasts and speeches will take place.

Parents and their grads have also planned an afternoon cruise about town.



On June 23, Virden Junior High Grade 8 class of 2020 will celebrate their graduation and the subsequent move to Virden Collegiate in the fall of 2020.

Principal Don Nahachewsy stated in his newsletter to parents, “I would also like to say thanks to all VJH families for their hard work through these difficult times.”

Traditionally the school lawn is filled with family and friends there to witness students’ achievements. However, this year, the outdoor ceremony will be replaced by individual appointments where diplomas and awards will be collected by the parents.

For Grade 8s, gift bags will also contain a special commemorative T-shirt.

In lieu of the graduating class group picture, traditionally taken before the Awards ceremony, the

students will be represented by their individual painted handprints which will be displayed in a prominent place in the downstairs hallway.

Students in Grades 5-7 are also eligible for awards which will be handed out on June 25, also by appointment. Award winners’ names and photos will be submitted to the Empire-Advance for publication.

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