The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on nearly ever aspect of life – including education. The province’s schools have been closed since mid-March, forcing high school students to finish out their semester at home and online through various Learn at Home programs.
For Grade 12 students, the pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of graduation ceremonies and the postponement, for many, of the traditional prom dance.
|Emily Lepage poses for a graduation picture with some of the residents at Chartwell Belcourt following her ceremony. PHOTO SUPPLIED
Enter the “Adopt-a-Grad” Facebook group which matches grads with businesses and organizations who provide everything from words of encouragement to small gifts.
The Chartwell Belcourt retirement resi-dence has taken the initiative a step further by holding ceremonies for three adopted grads. Cassandra St. Denis and Paola Figueroa from St. Peter High School and Emily Lepage from École secondaire Béatrice-Deloges were all adopted by the residents as part of their Seniors Adopting Seniors program.
All three young women were giving individual graduation ceremonies outside the residence so that everyone could safely follow the physical distancing guidelines.
Each grad received their diploma, a graduation gift from the residents and a graduation cake. There was even enter-tainment provided by Darling Moving and Storage.
The Orléans Adopt-a-Grad Facebook group was created by Natasha Stanzell who felt that local grads should be recognized despite the impact of the pandemic on the school year.
“We wanted to really make sure that our grads are being recognized and that they felt there is still some sort of celebration,” explains Stanzell. “The community looks through the Facebook page and finds a grad that needs adopting and basically they just celebrate this milestone in their life with them.”
When Chartwell Belcourt lifestyle pro-grams manager Wendy Lapierre heard about the group, she immediately got on board.
“When I heard about what Natasha was doing I thought it would be a nice way for our residents to keep connected with the community during this difficult time and to have our seniors adopting senior students was the perfect fit,” says Lapierre.
Emily Lepage’s graduation ceremony took place on June 17 with her proud parents and grandparents on hand along with a dozen or so Chartwell Belcourt residents.
And while it wasn’t quite the same as a full-fledged graduation ceremony with all her peers and fellow grads in attendance, it was a moment Emily won’t soon forget nonetheless.
“It really makes you feel special when you see what an amazing job they’ve done to try and make our final year as normal as can be right now. It’s been an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m very grateful,” says Emily, who plans to go to the University of Ottawa in the fall to pursue a degree in psychology.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)