Grade 12 student Kaiden Cole danced his way through the halls of Langley Fine Art School in his prom attire to celebrate graduating this year. Plans for a traditional prom and commencement ceremony were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic but the school still found a way for graduates to mark the milestone. (Joanne Abshire/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Langley grads mark a milestone amid a pandemic

Many local schools are finding ways to celebrate Grade 12 students

The arrival of June means the end of a school-year is nearing for many kids but the month is especially meaningful for Grade 12 students as they mark a significant milestone – graduation.

When Grade 12 kids in Langley started this school-year in September end-of-year plans likely included conversations about prom and walking across the stage at a formal commencement ceremony.

A pandemic was not in the plans – for anyone.

But the virus hasn’t stopped many Langley schools from celebrating its grads.

READ MORE: COVID-19: B.C. universities opt out of in-person spring graduation ceremonies

Langley Secondary School is recreating a grad ceremony in the school’s small gym with six smaller ceremonies with no more than 30 grads at each event.

Some parents and guardians will be permitted to watch the ceremony, which will later be released on video to premiere on June 17.

“We are hoping, at the simplest level, to allow students to have the opportunity to cross the stage and feel the symbolism of this action, while also meeting the needs of parents and families to witness and somehow be a part of this moment,” said Marcello Moino, school principal.

“We are also hoping that students see first-hand that unexpected circumstances will always come up during their lives, but that it is how they respond to those circumstances that will define them,” he added.

READ MORE: Cost of COVID-19 ‘biggest unknown’ for Langley School District budget

Similarly, Aldergrove Secondary School is hosting a graduation ceremony in small groups, which will be released on June 15.

“I hope that they leave our schools feeling empowered, confident and ready to take on the challenges of this unknown future,” said Jeremy Lyndon, school principal. “Life will look different. Our grads this year are the truest test of us as an educational system.”

Meanwhile, Langley Fine Arts already celebrated its grads including hosting a Grad Walk, where students danced down the school halls in their prom attire.

“Students were spaced out in our theatre so that the classmates could watch the grad ceremonies and speeches made,” explained Jessica Bain, vice-principal. “After, the student would come out front and toss their cap in the air. All of this was spliced together into a video that will be streamed for the grads and their families.”

Bain said she hope the grads see how much the staff care about them, adding it was also a time for the teachers and staff to say goodbye.

READ MORE: Virtual proms, online grad ceremonies: Teen milestones hit hard by COVID pandemic

“We want our graduates to know how much we have been thinking of them and wanting to make this special despite the challenges,” she noted. “Their accomplishment matters.”

The Langley Advance Times wants to see how this year’s Langley graduates are celebrating their accomplishments.

Whether it be hosting a prom at home with family or posing for pictures with cap and gown in your backyard, we want to see how Langley graduates are marking this milestone.

Langley can support this year’s grads by sharing a special poster included in this week’s edition of the newspaper and hanging it in their home or car window.

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Students at Langley Fine Arts attended a physically-distanced grad ceremony for this year’s graduates. Plans for a traditional prom and commencement ceremony were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic but the school still found a way for graduates to mark the milestone. (Joanne Abshire/Special to Langley Advance Times)

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