They won’t have their usual dinner and dance but Peter Skene Ogden’s 2021 graduating class will still get to celebrate with a reverse parade in Centennial Park.
Marsha Ried, head of this year’s grad committee, said although the 90 graduates are disappointed they can’t have the traditional celebrations due to COVID-19, they had to balance practicality with celebration. Ried’s daughter Emily is graduating this year.
“It’s a tough time when they had no hope they were going to have anything, so it brought them the promise they were going to have some sort of a celebration at the end of the year,” she said.
PSO Principal Geoff Butcher said the grad ceremonies will follow the same format as last year to abide by COVID-19 safety protocols. From June 17-18, graduates will receive a specific time to show up at the school with their family to receive their diploma and any scholarships. The valedictorian will also give a speech and music will be played during the ceremony.
“The setup is very much the same as a regular ceremony in the arena with the exception that there is only one student and family present at a time,” Butcher said. “The event will be recorded and streamed live.”
The reverse parade will be held on Saturday, June 19. Grads will gather in the park between 1:30 and 2 p.m., at which time the gates by the splash park will be opened to allow cars to drive through the park. According to the District of 100 Mile House, traffic will flow in a one-way direction, starting from the park entrance off Dogwood Avenue and First Street, travelling through the park and up to the main entrance off Cedar Avenue.
100 Mile House RCMP, 100 Mile House Fire-Rescue and Dawson Road Maintenance will help organize the flow of traffic. The reverse parade will run until 4 p.m., with Rob Fry of New Age Entertainment, providing music in the background.
Ried said while the reverse grad parade was a success last year, she wanted to find a nicer setting than the parking lot of the South Cariboo Rec Centre. “We have a beautiful park. It’s stunning down there for photos and having the grads together.”
Last year, about 1,000 people came to town for the reverse parade, lining up on Wrangler Way, by Kal-Tire and on Highway 97. By moving the event to the park, the traffic will be kept off the highway, making the event safer.
Following the parade, the park will be closed for the grads for an hour-and-a-half so they can enjoy some snacks, drinks and time together. A raffle will also be held, with enough donations from local businesses to provide prizes for each grad to take home, as well as a special gift that Ried is keeping under wraps, Ried said.
“They deserve something. If they’re not going to get the dinner, the dance and the whole big formal affair we’d like to give them some fun things for them to remember their graduation.”