By Melisa Tremblay-Pierrard and Hailey Campbell
Graduation is a major milestone in a student's life. Earlier this year, all in-person graduation ceremonies and banquets in Saskatchewan were cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the announcement, schools have been looking for unique ways to acknowledge and celebrate this milestone in their graduates' lives.
Inspired by the front step family photos that were trending around the world in March, a group of teachers from Holy Cross High School have rallied together to give grads an opportunity to flaunt their formal wear, while respecting physical-distancing practices. These photos represent a highly collaborative and substantial effort in helping students take back their year.
"We came up with the idea during a yearbook meeting. We were looking for ways to acknowledge the pandemic and the huge impact it has had on our students' lives while also looking for ways to celebrate our graduates, who have lost a major milestone. We can't give them the grad banquet they would normally have had, but we can give them this," said Melisa Tremblay-Pierrard, a Holy Cross High School teacher, yearbook advisor, photographer and parent of a graduate.
Supported by the school's administration and office staff, many hands made for light work as an online schedule was launched and confirmation emails were sent out to organize the many appointments necessary to fulfill the project. Beginning the first week of June, three teachers from the school worked together to photograph over 250 students on their front steps, while remaining at a safe distance.
"As both a teacher and a parent, I understand first hand how difficult this situation is for our grads, their families, and our school staff," said Tremblay-Pierrard. "This is not the send off we wanted for our Grade 12s. We wanted to give our students a chance to still get dressed up and to share their grad outfits with their classmates. We hope that through our effort, grads will feel seen, valued and loved by the various stakeholders in their educational journey."
While the photos produced by this project will be shared with the graduates, they will also be featured in the grad section of this year's edition of the yearbook.
Hailey Campbell, another yearbook advisor and teacher at Holy Cross who is involved in the project added, "Our team has come up with creative ways to make this edition special for the school community, but also for the grads. With COVID-19 still a major disruption to everything school-related, we want to make this year's edition as meaningful as possible, given the circumstances."