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May 28, 2020

Creative and Virtual Graduation Ceremonies Trending this Year

There is still no official information on the re-opening of schools, but the rest of the academic year will likely continue as is with students doing at-home studying. It is also graduation season, but because of COVID 19, the much anticipated occasion is not going to happen in the traditional form.  Various high schools are now opting for virtual ceremonies and here at Channel Five, we are working with a number of high schools to allow the students to still celebrate, though virtually, the memorable recognition of their years of studies.  Here is News Five’s Duane Moody with a report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

For graduates, taking pictures with friends and family dressed in caps and gowns, holding the prized diploma; walking to the choreographed routine of the pomp and circumstance and throwing caps in the air, are the symbolic gestures of having made it.  It’s a milestone for students and their proud parents; a once in a lifetime experience for fourth formers, having successfully completed four years of studying. But that rite of passage won’t happen in the traditional way at high schools across the country, as the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all sectors, including education.


Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“No graduation ceremony is happening, clearly. No cap and no gown is going to be rented. No place is going to be rented to hold a big shindig for graduation. In fact, more than likely you will be handed your piece of paper; you’re lucky if you even get it handed to you physically, it may be put in the mail or you get it later on, at some point.”


Since March twentieth, students have been out of the classrooms and engaged in educational activities from home. It’s an emotional time for students who lost hope in participating in the pomp and circumstance and celebrating the achievement.


Stephanie Cho

Stephanie Cho, 4th Form Student, St. Catherine Academy

“I was scared because with all this COVID-19 I was afraid that I wouldn’t get to do my graduation, do the prom. That was one thing that I wanted the marching up and all the opportunities available. Because of this pandemic, I wouldn’t be able to see my friends, see the last moments of them at graduation. I feel like I lost many opportunities because of not fully experiencing the graduation process and not feeling the graduation spirit of this year. And that’s what really affects me because it restricts me from doing things and not enjoying the process of graduation shopping or going through the process of experiencing fun things with my parents and that’s what hurts.”


But schools are revamping graduation ceremonies due to COVID-19 and have come up with creative ways to honour the students. Over at Edward P. Yorke High School in Belize City, there will now be a graduation week. Principal McKinley King outlined the process that will allow students to receive their diplomas in persons and in the presence of at least two loved ones.


McKinley King

McKinley King, Principal, EP Yorke High School

“We will have what is called a graduation week and it starts from June the twenty-second to the twenty-sixth. At that time, we are asking our fourth formers, according to their specific area, to come in and they will be taking pictures in their usual gowns and caps and tassels and you know, the graduation attire. We will have a stage at the back all dressed up like the usual graduation setting. And so the students will come with two guests; they can invite their parent and another person or whoever they so wish to choose and they will come along with them and we will have a background on the stage with the graduation setting. We will also have the pomp and circumstances played; it will be just like the graduation atmosphere, it is just that we will take into consideration the social distancing.”


Other institutions such as Independence High School, Muffles College in Orange Walk and Saint Catherine Academy in Belize City have opted for a virtual graduation ceremony which will be broadcast here on Channel Five.


Salome Tillett

Salome Tillett, Principal, St. Catherine Academy

“We are doing something special for our girls; they’ve worked hard for four years. This disruption caused by COVID-19 is not their fault so let’s do something special for them was the whole sentiment of our staff and parents and so together we’ve come up with some ideas. And I am sure other schools have other great ideas as well. So our plan is to do this virtual kinda online and parts in person graduation that will involve a focus on every student. So she doesn’t get to walk across the stage, but she gets to shine for ten seconds. We will show her in her graduation regalia, say her name and she says a quote that she lives by. We are prerecording some parts of it and some parts like the blessing, a reflection on the year, the calling of names; that’s going to be live. Our valedictorian speech will be pre-recorded, our guest speaker will be pre-recorded and then there will be some elements of surprise.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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