Cheers to the Class of 2020!
By Kristin McNeill, Randy Pinsky and Wendy Singer
The COVID-19 pandemic robbed the Class of 2020 of the traditional walk across the stage to the cheers of family and friends, and the opportunity to celebrate as a class one last time. But their teachers and staff were not about to let this milestone pass unmarked.
The Inspirations team checked in with a few of our special schools to see how they celebrated their Class of 2020. As you'll see, at each school, staff went all out, organizing creative and fun graduations that met physical distancing requirements. Students completed their year feeling celebrated and staff, rewarded for organizing such touching ceremonies.
Special needs schools did open in June, and we take the opportunity here to report on how it went for a few of these schools. Thanks to all who shared their stories with us. Congratulations to the Class of 2020 for all that you have accomplished. Have a great summer, and best of luck as you begin the next chapter of your lives!
Mackay Centre and Philip E. Layton Schools
provide touching send off to 2020 grads
|Graduates walk to their graduation ceremony at the Mackay Centre and |
Philip E. Layton campus in NDG.
In normal years, the Mackay Centre and Philip E. Layton (PEL) School's, (English Montreal School Board - EMSB) graduation ceremony is an elaborate and emotional event. While circumstances did not permit for a grandiose grad this year, it did not alter the strong sentiments that this major life event brings with it.
|Class of 2020 graduate Michael Andan at |
Mackay Centre and PEL Schools.
On the very hot day of June 19, 15 graduates and their parents attended a special ceremony set up on the lawn of the school, with ample space to accommodate social distancing and tents to protect from the sun and heat.
Thirteen Grade 6 Mackay Centre School students graduated this year. Many will be moving on to other high school programs, the Senior class at Mackay or one of their two satellite classes. “The teachers have taken a huge initiative to make graduation special for these kids,” said Mr. Greg Watson, vice principal of the Mackay Centre and PEL Schools. "It’s tough because our Grade 6 students don’t necessarily move on together as they come from so many different areas.”
The Mackay Centre School celebrated three graduates at the senior level. Two of these students, one from the Mackay Centre Senior Class, the other from Westmount High School’s Satellite Class had attended Mackay from pre-K to age 21. “These families have been involved with the Centre for 17 years. It’s a big deal,” said Mr. Watson.
One student graduated from the Royal Vale Satellite Class, which is specifically for deaf students. Her ceremony was virtual, with her class, teachers and both rehab and education staff that have worked with her over the years in attendance. Staff went all out, preparing a special slide show and speeches, and even shipped a cap and tassel to the home of this student.
|The Mackay Centre and Philip E. Layton Schools graduation ceremony.|
Two graduates from Philip E. Layton School were treated to a drive-by ceremony at their home with their teachers the following week.
Saying goodbye was difficult, no matter which level the student graduated from. “While attending our school the students and their families build strong relationships with other students, teachers, PABs (personal support workers)and the rehabilitation staff and therapists that have been working with them over the years,” said Mr. Watson. “This was the last time they’ll all be together, and they have been such a huge part of each other’s lives.”