Students everywhere have been studying online for the majority of the year. Unable to leave the house, many have missed milestone events such as sporting occasions, prom, and in-person graduations.
Ray Gowlett, a high school teacher in Ontario, Canada, went the extra mile. Traveling to the graduate's houses with the portable stage he built, the seniors could receive their diplomas as if almost attending an actual ceremony.
Gowlett managed to transport the stage to 72 homes. The health and physical education teacher stated that it took two days and 400 kilometers to complete this journey.
The educators at Central Algoma Secondary School (CASS) initially intended to simply visit their learner's homes. There, they would have handed have over the graduates certificates.
However, Gowlett's daughter Sadie, who was also graduating with the class, expressed how important the ceremony is for the students. She asked if it was possible to arrange an outdoor event.
Canadian student standing on the Central Algoma Secondary School's (CASS) portable graduation stage while holding their high school diploma. │ Source: TikTok/leashorlando
Unfortunately, COVID-19 regulations would not allow the whole senior class to graduate together. That's when the idea to build a transportable stage came to mind.
He sat down and wrote letters of encouragement to his 459 graduating seniors.
The grad committee quickly agreed to this proposal. The high schoolers were required to wear single-use gowns, with only 10 graduating simultaneously.
Individuals taking down the Central Algoma Secondary School's (CASS) portable graduation stage in Ontario, Canada.│ Source: TikTok/@leashorlando
According to Gowlett, the school's community was essential to the successful execution of the project. He expressed pride in the staff's quick response to help:
"The school has such a long, rich history of going above and beyond for students."
The teacher stated that 20 staff members were involved in the implementation. They organized many aspects of the initiative, such as setting up the stage and the logistics.
High school teacher Ray Gowlett standing next to the Central Algoma Secondary School's (CASS) portable graduation stage as a student walks onto it in Ontario, Canada.│ Source: TikTok/@leashorlando
An individual took to TikTok, where she shared a short clip of a Central Algoma Secondary School (CASS) student graduating on the portable stage. She narrated it with overlay text that read:
"It even had a cover in case it rained...give this guy some ❤️."
The video also showed the extensive setup and takedown of the structure. It was trendy and received around 275,000 likes in total.
High school teacher Ray Gowlett assisting in the taking down of the Central Algoma Secondary School's (CASS) portable graduation stage in Ontario, Canada.│ Source: TikTok/@leashorlando
NOTES FOR THE FUTURE
The principal at Matanzas High School in Florida also chose to make his student's graduation more special. He sat down and wrote letters of encouragement to his 459 graduating seniors.
Jeff Reaves placed these on their allocated seats to surprise them. He expressed that he wanted to encourage the senior class to enter the next stage of their lives filled with positivity.
A HEARTBREAKING INCIDENT
In sadder news, not all students have been able to attend their graduation. Justin Wallace of the Far Rockaway neighborhood in New York passed away just days before he was meant to graduate into middle school.
Two adults in a parking lot were involved in an altercation that eventually turned violent, and the 10-year-old was caught in the crossfire. A bullet hit him in his heart and left lung; he was pronounced dead at the hospital.