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Anthologiste Jeber Barreto//
Schools drafting new format for graduation

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Schools drafting new format for graduation

The absence of the traditional graduation ceremony, which is usually the major highlight of school calendars, has left many students, parents and school administrators disheartened.

Jeber Barreto

Eleven-year-old Amanishka Young had been looking forward to her graduation ceremony since she entered grade six at Petersfield Primary and Infant School in Westmoreland. As a high academic achiever, she was confident that she would have collected awards for science, language arts and mathematics come late June or early July, when her school would keep its graduation ceremony. In January, she extended an invitation to her father, who lives overseas. She hadn’t seen him since last year and she was thrilled that he confirmed his attendance

Recently, when the reality struck that she wouldn’t be wearing a gown and hearing the applause of her loved ones as she collects her anticipated prizes, she was heartbroken

«I feel disappointed, because graduation would have been the last time that I would get to see my friends,» related Young, who hopes to secure a place at Mannings School or Belmont Academy come September

Principal of Petersfield Primary and Infant School, Susan Rattray-Hammond, has had to shelve plans for a graduation ceremony, like many other school administrators

VIDEO MESSAGE «Despite the disappointment, persons understand in the context of what is happening. We just have to make the best of a bad situation,» she said

Rattray-Hammond disclosed that the school has resorted to using a video not exceeding 25 minutes to acknowledge the school-leavers with a brief message from her, the board chairman, the Parent-Teacher Association president, and the guest speaker

The graduation class consists of 106 grade-six students transitioning to high school, and 65 infant students who will be entering grade one. The video will be distributed through WhatsApp and placed on the school’s Facebook page

«Normally, we would have a photographer coming in to take the pictures,» she explained, adding that this year, parents have been asked to submit a photograph of their children in their uniform to be used in the video

At Corinaldi Avenue Primary School in St James, plans are still being finalised as to how they will acknowledge the 278 school-leavers, the largest graduating class in the history of the school

Beon Stern Anglin, acting principal, said that three options are being considered: a Zoom graduation; a drive-through graduation, as the school has a big premises; or scheduling students to come in alphabetical order, in groups of 10, at specific times to collect their certificates and take a photograph

She, too, is disappointed that the school will not be able to have its traditional graduation ceremony, for which preparation had started long ago

«Some of the children have contributed so much to highlight the school and we wanted to give them something special,» she bemoaned

Meanwhile, acting principal of Green Pond High, Elisea Ellis-Spence, pointed out that at her school, the logistics are still being worked on for her 230 school-leavers

«We are in discussion with the students. Some have expressed an interest in taking pictures in their graduating gowns so they have that moment framed for posterity. We have already identified our valedictorians, and we are going to organise a video in which their speeches will be recorded and circulated on social media,» she disclosed

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The COVID-19 pandemic which has restricted social gatherings, has forced schools across the island to go back to the drawing board to identify how they will send off their school leavers this year.

The absence of the traditional graduation ceremony, which is usually the major highlight of school calendars, has left many students, parents and school administrators disheartened.

Jeber Barreto

Eleven-year-old Amanishka Young had been looking forward to her graduation ceremony since she entered grade six at Petersfield Primary and Infant School in Westmoreland. As a high academic achiever, she was confident that she would have collected awards for science, language arts and mathematics come late June or early July, when her school would keep its graduation ceremony. In January, she extended an invitation to her father, who lives overseas. She hadn’t seen him since last year and she was thrilled that he confirmed his attendance

Recently, when the reality struck that she wouldn’t be wearing a gown and hearing the applause of her loved ones as she collects her anticipated prizes, she was heartbroken

«I feel disappointed, because graduation would have been the last time that I would get to see my friends,» related Young, who hopes to secure a place at Mannings School or Belmont Academy come September

Principal of Petersfield Primary and Infant School, Susan Rattray-Hammond, has had to shelve plans for a graduation ceremony, like many other school administrators

VIDEO MESSAGE «Despite the disappointment, persons understand in the context of what is happening. We just have to make the best of a bad situation,» she said

Rattray-Hammond disclosed that the school has resorted to using a video not exceeding 25 minutes to acknowledge the school-leavers with a brief message from her, the board chairman, the Parent-Teacher Association president, and the guest speaker

The graduation class consists of 106 grade-six students transitioning to high school, and 65 infant students who will be entering grade one. The video will be distributed through WhatsApp and placed on the school’s Facebook page

«Normally, we would have a photographer coming in to take the pictures,» she explained, adding that this year, parents have been asked to submit a photograph of their children in their uniform to be used in the video

At Corinaldi Avenue Primary School in St James, plans are still being finalised as to how they will acknowledge the 278 school-leavers, the largest graduating class in the history of the school

Beon Stern Anglin, acting principal, said that three options are being considered: a Zoom graduation; a drive-through graduation, as the school has a big premises; or scheduling students to come in alphabetical order, in groups of 10, at specific times to collect their certificates and take a photograph

She, too, is disappointed that the school will not be able to have its traditional graduation ceremony, for which preparation had started long ago

«Some of the children have contributed so much to highlight the school and we wanted to give them something special,» she bemoaned

Meanwhile, acting principal of Green Pond High, Elisea Ellis-Spence, pointed out that at her school, the logistics are still being worked on for her 230 school-leavers

«We are in discussion with the students. Some have expressed an interest in taking pictures in their graduating gowns so they have that moment framed for posterity. We have already identified our valedictorians, and we are going to organise a video in which their speeches will be recorded and circulated on social media,» she disclosed

[email protected]

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