INNISFAIL – Graduating students from Innisfail High School will soon have the chance to celebrate without huge worries about COVID-19 restrictions.
It will be the first time since 2019 that the school’s (IHS) staff and graduating class will have a traditional ceremony inside the gym with family and friends freely able to celebrate.
IHS principal Wayne Pineau said the Class of 2021-22 will have graduation this year that will be “pretty close” to normal.
This year’s Innisfail High School graduation is set for Friday, June 3 in the school’s gym.
Leading up to this year’s grad Pineau said there was an undercurrent of nervousness of what to expect from both students and staff. After all, it has been three years since the school held its last normal ceremony without the threat of a pandemic.
“The Grade 12s were very hopeful that we would be back to very close to normal; the relaxation of restrictions and the opportunity to gather again, and we’re very excited to share with our stakeholders this momentous day,” said Pineau.
“Even at the beginning of the year staff went in with a bit of trepidation of like, 'we want to do this but we’re also being aware there could be some restrictions',” he added. “It’s scaled down a little. It’s not as big as it would have been prior but it’s still bigger than anything we’ve run since COVID. It’s a go.”
Pineau said this upcoming special day will have two parts, with the first being the grad ceremony starting at 1 p.m. The grad ceremony, which will include best wishes and speeches from local political and school board officials, will be open to the public and run until about 3 p.m.
He said the school is not hosting a traditional meal but there will be a prom that begins at 6 p.m.
“It will be an opportunity for the kids to go get changed into their finery and then come back,” said Pineau, adding the prom will be held in the gym as well. “That part is ticketed, and they can come for some light desserts and snacks. It is their chance to walk the stage wearing their dress and tux.”
And there will of course be an invitation to grads to have the traditional mortarboard toss.
“We are hopeful there will be mortarboard toss. I’m not sure if they have decided if it’s inside or outside yet,” he said.
Most importantly, Pineau said he’s excited for all students and their families who will experience the recognition for the hard work that has been put in over the last three to four years.
“The kids are excited because it is like a culmination of an important part of their life but they are looking forward to doing the adulting thing, to go into college, going out and getting a job or travelling,” said Pineau, who is in his 11th year as IHS principal.
“The parents are excited about the opportunity because, again, it is a big step in their child’s life,” he added. “We love the celebration piece. It is truly my most favourite day of the year because you get to see them all dressed up and celebrate with them for their hard work, effort, grit and determination. It is fantastic.”