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Parents organize celebration event for 2020 grads

Event committee president tells grads to make their lives what they want it to be
Grad celebration-cropped
Elle Harapchuk and Adam Mueller just before they entered the secured area to go on their modified grand march as part of a parent organized 2020 celebration event.

BARRHEAD-Regardless of the coronavirus pandemic and public health restrictions, a group of parents were determined to ensure that any Barrhead Composite High School (BCHS) grad who wanted to had a moment in the sun, literally and figuratively. 

 For the last several years, on graduation day the community has experienced periods of extensive rainfall, more often than not in the form of a short thunderstorm.

 On June 26, about 95 BCHS out of the 124 BCHS 2020 graduating class had the opportunity to be centre stage in a modified grand march in the Barrhead Agrena parking lot in front their family and friends.

 "It couldn't gone any better if we had planned on it," 2020 graduation celebration committee president Marci Stephani said.

 Of course, the committee had planned on it. About three weeks before the event Stephani asked for and received Town of Barrhead councillors permission to use the parking lot. And ever since the committee had been planning the event.

 "We did our best to coordinate with the high school," she said, noting from 1 to 3 p.m. BCHS staff held a drive-by diploma ceremony, where graduates picked up their mock sheepskin (students receive their official diplomas through the mail from Alberta Education).

 "The parade at the high school was done alphabetically and once they were done we invited them to wait at the staging area at the Agrena," Stephani said, adding on depending on what their last name was the longest students had to wait was about an hour.

 Once the event started, graduates proceeded from the staging area, usually in pairs, walking among a marked path between two rows of parked cars. In each of the cars, were friends and family members.

 It should be noted that this area was behind secured fencing manned by volunteers. Only one car was allowed per graduate and those in the car had to self-assess and fill out a form which essentially served as a ticket.

 In the middle of the pathway, organizers set up a stage, where each graduate was announced. They then left the stage proceeded down the path to meet their family, which were then allowed to get out their vehicles to take pictures and visit with the graduate.

 In total the whole event took just under an hour Roving the pathway was a photographer who uploaded the majority of her photos to an app which participants were given the passcode on entry.

 "I know it wasn't what they were expecting when they [graduates and family] when they were planning for grad, but we did the best we could to make it a memorable day for them, and I know it was appreciated," Stephani said.

 She told the graduates that unfortunately in life, unwelcomed and unexpected events will happen, but it is how they respond and the choices that will make the difference in their lives.

 The 2020 grad class selected a quote from Arthur Ashe, a former professional tennis player, as their motto. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

 Ashe was the first black player selected to the United States Davis Cup team and the only black man ever to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open.

 "Along life's way, you are going to have obstacles, people who are going to say you are not good enough, and you might start to doubt yourself," Stephani said. "I want to encourage you not to settle. Strive, don't succumb, but overcome. Don't flee from opportunity but believe in yourself ... because in the end, as Lewis Carroll warns 'in the end we only regret the chances we did not take.' You are responsible for making your life what you want it to be. Embrace the challenge."

Barry Kerton, TownandCountryToday.com

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