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W.R. Myers hosts successful social distance grad amidst pandemic

Posted on June 17, 2020 by Taber Times
GRADUATION DAY: While not the traditional grad held at the end of the year for high schools, W.R. Myers staff were able to see their grads off including Trey Halvorson who received his diploma from principal Ken Pon (left) during the ceremony. TIMES PHOTO BY COLE PARKINSON

By Cole Parkinson
Taber Times

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted large mass gatherings, W.R. Myers High School figured out a way to celebrate their graduating Grade 12 students through a three-day celebration.

In late May, the Myers gym was dressed to the nines in order to give the departing graduates some sort of celebration for all of their hard work over their years of school. While the pandemic provided many hurdles, the staff came up with an idea that was supported throughout the school and Horizon School Division.

“The idea for the graduation came from our wonderful graduation leads, Lori Pickerell, Lisa Astalos and Stacey Peleskey,” explained Ken Pon, principal of W.R. Myers. “This wonderful team of professionals wanted to create a special memory for the Graduating Class of 2020. They presented a plan to the school administration, (myself) and Greg Bowes (vice-principal) and we loved the idea of celebrating our graduates. We then presented the idea to our superintendent, Dr. Wilco Tymensen, and he wholeheartedly supported the idea as we met the AHS guidelines presented to us. When we got the green light to move forward with the planning for this event, the team of graduation leads took the reins and ran with it.”

As far as how the production went over those three days of May 26-28, staff is reporting things went over extremely well.

“The experience of our graduation team was on full display. It took a few weeks to finalize the details of what the event would look like and staff immediately signed up to take on the tasks to make the day special for our students and families,” added Pon. “The event was fantastic. It was so great to see the students and families celebrating their child’s success. The staff of W.R. Myers High School is an amazing staff that will do anything for our students and our community. I am so proud to be a part of the team here at W.R. Myers High School. The staff has a proud history of celebrating and supporting our students and this event was no different.”

In order to have a successful event, cooperation with students and their families was of high importance for this edition of grad. Upon walking into the gym, students and their families were greeted with a bunch of cheers and a fully-decorated W.R. Myers gym.

“The smiles and thank you messages that we received on the days and through emails and phone calls was incredibly positive. The smiles of our students and families was all that we needed to let us know that the event was a success. Graduation is a time of celebration and during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to be creative with connecting with our school community. It was so awesome to see our students and their families. I want to thank all of the students and families for their patience during this unprecedented time. It was a great celebration,” continued Pon.

On top of the planning and decorating, Myers staff was also in a rotating shift in the form of a cheering squad to welcome students into the gym.

With social distancing still mandatory in the province, the school had to figure out a way to not only host the event but make it feel as much like a normal grad as possible.

Having staff make a bunch of noise was one of those additions, and Pon says the staff was more than happy to provide that little extra bit of support through cheering each and every student who stepped into the gym.

“As we creatively weaved the physical distancing measures into our event, the staff of W.R. Myers High School stepped up, as they always do to support our students and our families! Both teaching and support staff were actively involved in our event. We had no more than 15 people in the room and with physical distancing measures in place, we banded together to create the best possible experience for our graduates and our families. We had our door greeters, cheering section of staff members, our speakers that did a fabulous job speaking about the graduates’ next steps. It was a total team effort. We truly are a Rebels Family,” said Pon. “Our theme for our graduates was “We Are So Proud of You”. This truly was a great three days of celebrating our graduates.”

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