Grade 12 students at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School (PSO) had their graduation ceremonies spread out over two days this year on account of COVID-19.
From 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on June 18 and 19, graduates went up to accept their diploma with only a few family members or friends in attendance. Held at PSO, instead of the South Cariboo Rec Centre, students would come into a long hallway with pictures of all the graduates contrasted with their grade 8 pictures. Next, they would receive their diploma from principal Geoff Butcher after which they had an opportunity to take some pictures in front of a big 2020 sign as well as an indoor photoshoot.
“I think it went really well from my perspective,” says Butcher. “I know we talked a lot with the parents as they were moving through different parts of the school to do different things and they were all really appreciative of what was going on. A lot of them actually liked the approach as opposed to the regular way we do grad: a little more personal, a little more intimate.”
The class is really small, according to Butcher, at about 80 students which is about 30 less than usual.
“Really strong academic students in this class. We gave out a whole lot of scholarship money and the marks that the kids had were just outstanding. I haven’t seen a crop of students [like] the top of this class that had those kind of marks.”
There are lots of different paths the graduates are on, including lots of trades.
“It’s really an eclectic bunch but really strong academics is probably the one things that comes to mind first of all.”
In total, $61,200 was handed out in scholarship money, according to Butcher, which he says is about on par with usual.
“Some people have come on board that weren’t there before and some, the money that they’d set aside for scholarships have dwindled and was no longer available, so it’s nice that it’s being replenished by new people.”
They just had someone step forward who’s setting up a scholarship after their children went through following an inheritance, according to Butcher.
“We’re looking forward to seeing what next year brings and whether we can accommodate some sort of personalized approach with a large ceremony.”
Morris Bob, one of the graduates, says he was feeling pretty good and was excited to get school over with adding he’s going into carpentry next.
Violet Cragg, another of the graduates, says she was very happy with everything that was going on.
“I’m very proud of our community for putting this on.”
Cragg’s siblings came up to surprise her which she says was the best part of the day.
“I had no idea they were coming up and it really means a lot because of all the quarantine I don’t get to have a prom or anything so we’re having our own prom.”
She says she’s really looking forward to moving and going to university.
“I love 100 Mile but I’m going to love being a funeral director much more,” she says.
Amy Baechmann, one of the valedictorians, says she was really excited and that they did a really good job with the setup.
“I didn’t think they would pull that much off in a short amount of time.”
It was really nice to see the teachers she’s grown with over the past five years, she says.
“It’s really sad but at the same time you know you have that you have that connection so if you come back you can come and say hi.”
She says she spent the day practising her speech and saying goodbye to everyone.
“I think Peter Skene Ogden was a really great place to grow because it’s so small you really get the connection with the teachers and then because of that I had the opportunity to go to Lakeland Vet and actually job shadow there which is incredible.”