School pulls out all the stops for Grade 8 graduation

Left to right: Keegan Lalonde, Izrael Kennedy and Anson St. Pierre. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

Some call it the COVID Class of 2020.

It’s been challenging for many students graduating during the pandemic without the usual fanfare, but you wouldn’t know it watching the Grade 8s of Bridgeview School parade down Michigan Avenue on June 24.

“The parade was a great way to celebrate and keep some of our traditions going,” said Will Greer, one of 21 grads from Lauren D’Andrea’s Grade 8 class.

Will Greer

Will was among three students chosen as class valedictorian, forced by physical distancing to deliver his speech online.

A video was made by Bridgeview staff, who announced award recipients and congratulated the kids.

But the school board-sanctioned online production couldn’t include any of the fun of Bridgeview’s traditional festivities. The year-end class trip to cap off 10 years together was cancelled. The opportunity to get dressed up and attend dinner at the Optimist Hall was gone, along with the in-person congratulations and after party.

April Brander

“It’s been hard,” said 13-year-old Will.  “No one expected when we left school in March that would be it, that we wouldn’t be together at school again.”

With the usual traditions grounded grad looked dismal.

So a group of parents decided to make the best of a disappointing situation shared by graduates everywhere this year.

“We threw a lot of ideas around and thought about what we could do to respect social distancing and still allow the community to celebrate and the grads to have their moment,” said Will’s mom,

Grad Nate Shortreed shared the parade with his pup Polly.
Cathy Dobson

April Brander.

What they came up with was a big success.

Family and friends cheered along the parade route as each graduate rode through the village in decorated cars. An OPP cruiser led the parade and Point Edward Fire & Rescue saluted each one as they passed the fire hall, introduced by Coun. Larry Gordon on a bullhorn.

It was as good for the village as it was for the students in some respects, Brander said.

“We have a really good community that feels ownership of Bridgeview School,” she said.  “Bridgeview is a hub. We didn’t get a single no when we asked for help with the parade.”

Instead of the traditional candy bar on grad night, students received baskets of donated candy and gift cards.

They also had a unique night of memories that no other Bridgeview grad class can claim.

“We went from feeling disappointed to feeling really excited about grad night,” said Brander.

Lucas Cadieux, left, and Alex Simpson.
Cathy Dobson

Point Edward Mayor Bev Hand outside the fire hall with Coun. Larry Gordon, left, announcing each passing grad.
Cathy Dobson

Ruby Rutherford, left, and Charleigh Getty wore their grad dresses while preparing vehicles for the parade.
Cathy Dobson

Point Edward OPP led the parade of Bridgeview Public School grads down Michigan Avenue.
Cathy Dobson

Amy Fraser waves at the crowd.
Cathy Dobson