Creative ways can be found to celebrate graduation

Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, as well as Strait area MLAs Allan MacMaster, Alana Paon, Lloyd Hines, and Randy Delorey.

My family and community are grateful for the leadership you and your government have shown protecting Nova Scotians from COVID-19. On the whole, citizens of the province have borne the burden of social distancing to protect one another, with pride. “Stay the blazes home” should be translated into Latin and become the new official provincial motto!

On the list of things that you need to deal with while you confront COVID-19, high school graduation may seem frivolous. Parents are grateful that our kids are healthy and continue to learn from home. It has been awesome to watch them find ways to stay connected to their family and friends, and help their parents do the same. Many grade 12 kids have taken on front-line roles in our grocery stores helping keep Nova Scotians safe. So I do not expect you to figure out graduation, you have enough to do.

I am asking that you provide leadership and a mandate to the education minister and in turn, the Regional Centres for Education, and our high schools to go and figure out – together – how we can safely celebrate 13 years of education for Nova Scotia’s Grade 12 students. Parents are eager and ready to help but have been told they cannot proceed with planning any officially sanctioned graduation activities without direction from you, the Department of Education, and the Regional Centres for Education.

The risk is parents will go rogue and have events that do not meet the guidelines of Dr. Strang. Concerned parents have been sent communication that indicates educational leaders need your permission to start planning and working with students and parents.

I have heard of some truly innovative, safe, and heart-warming ideas for marking graduation. Ideas like using outdoor drive-in movie theatres and airstrips to have graduations from cars. Proms will obviously have to wait until we can gather with less social distance requirements. Our young people need this celebration. Nova Scotia needs this celebration. Trust us to get this right. Let parents, students and schools figure this out. You, Dr. Strang and minister Churchill can rest assured that health and safety is at the forefront of all our minds.

I have heard you say that there will be graduations, but it should not be planned by educational leaders alone. Graduations are school, community and family celebrations and to date, the message we are sending to our young people is that we can trust them to pack our groceries safely but not plan celebrating the end of their secondary education.

John Ouellette

Port Hawkesbury