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Grads on parade; Saturday cruise marks 2020 graduation in Comox Valley

Comox Valley Grade 12s are taking their grad ceremony on the road.

They’ll be participating in a unique ceremony in personal vehicles on Saturday between 1:30pm and 3:00pm at various locations throughout the valley.

In order to follow the provincial health officer’s guidelines of gatherings of no more than 50 people, each of the respective secondary schools – G.P Vanier, Highland and Mark R. Isfeld – will take part in a drive-up ceremony to ensure physical distancing restrictions are respected and maintained.

After they get their graduation package, each grad can take part in a vehicle parade near their school. 

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You’re encouraged to line one of the routes to cheer on the Class of 2020. 

The Comox Valley RCMP and the school district are asking drivers within the vicinity of any of the secondary schools on Saturday to take extra care, expect delays as traffic may be moving slower than usual, and offer smiles and waves of support to all the graduating students.

Highland Secondary principal, Dean Patterson, said his school has a tradition of having its graduation ceremony at Filberg Park, which is a “beautiful setting.”

“So we’re disappointed that we don’t get to do it in that manner,” he added. “For our grads, they’ve heard stories about it but this is their first graduation so they don’t have an awful lot to compare it to.”

Patterson said he’d “be lying” if he said the grads weren’t disappointed with the way the year has ended. 

“The kind of ceremony that they were expecting is not the kind of ceremony that they’re getting, but it has caused the schools to do a lot of thinking and reflecting about how we make this ceremony special and unique for this particular grad class.”

As such, Patterson said the school has put together a lot of elements and pieces that it hasn’t done before. This includes pre-recording the graduation ceremony by working with a local company, Fox&Bee Studio.

“They’ve done a fabulous job of recording all the elements of a graduation ceremony, and we have those available to the students.”

Past grads have told Patterson that the ceremony itself is somewhat nerve wracking: “They are so worried about tripping over their gown or making their way safely down the ramp, that they miss out on all the elements of the ceremony. And now the kids are going to have a keepsake ceremony that they can come back and watch, and reflect on, and share with others, and that in itself is pretty unique.”

This year’s Highland grad emphasizes the connection with the students’ families and neighbours, Patterson said.

“The one thing that it allows us to do is involve the families more, where before they sort of show up and we take their kids away and that’s kind of it for the family piece. And now families have made plans and have barbecues and brunches and photographs and lots of things planned for their kids.”

He added, “Often the Highland group just heads down to the Filberg or our gymnasium and that’s sort of the end of it. The idea of the car cruise was to give the community an opportunity to help join in the celebration. We’re encouraging everyone to decorate their cars with lots of grad signs and balloons and streamers and cans hanging off the back. We’re hoping as the community sees our grads go by, they honk their horns or give them a little applause and help make their day a little extra special.” 

The Class of 2020 vehicle convoy graduation ceremony times and routes are as follows:

Georges P. Vanier Secondary

Ceremony starts at 1:30pm

  • Exit Vanier thru the Comox Valley Sports Centre parking lot
  • Left on Vanier Drive
  • Left on Headquarters Road
  • Right on Old Island Hwy (Hwy 19A)
  • Right into Lewis Park Loop for photo opportunity
  • Right on 5th Street
  • Proceed to top of 5th Street
  • Once at top of 5th Street, graduates can depart/return home.

Highland Secondary

Ceremony starts at 2:00pm.

  • Turn right onto Pritchard Road from Highland parking lot
  • Take first right at the Comox Airport roundabout onto Knight Road
  • Proceed to end onto Lazo Road
  • Turn right to continue on Lazo Road and follow to the intersection of Torrence Road
  • Turn left onto Torrance Road
  • Turn right onto Balmoral Avenue
  • Turn left onto Pritchard Road
  • Veer right onto Comox Avenue and proceed to Anderton Road
  • Once at Anderton Road, graduates may depart/return home.

Mark R. Isfeld Secondary

Ceremony starts at 2:30pm.

  • Turn right onto Lerwick after leaving the bus loop
  • Turn right on Valleyview Drive proceed to the 4-way stop at Hobson Avenue
  • Turn right on Hobson Avenue, right on 10th Street East
  • Right on Sitka Avenue, which flows into Malahat Drive
  • Proceed on Malahat Drive to Lerwick
  • Once at Lerwick, graduates may depart/return home.
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