Belmont Secondary grads celebrate the end of high school

Belmont Secondary graduates Jasmyn Loo, Jacklyn Halaburda, Ashley Bilachand Isabella Wheaton celebrate the end of their high school careers. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Amber Druken said she’s thought about her graduation ceremony since she was a young girl and is happy she was able to cross the stage this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Keagan Tait was Belmont Secondary’s valedictorian. He said his graduating class will always be unique because they were able to get through the COVID-19 pandemic together. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Josh Mandryk and Haley Mandryk said it feels good to be done school. They plan on job hunting now that high school is over. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Scott Kenning, Jaden Joseph and Spencer Logan said it’s nice to be done high school and see what comes next. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Belmont Secondary graduates Jasmyn Loo, Jacklyn Halaburda, Ashley Bilach and Isabella Wheaton show off their graduation caps after their pandemic-friendly graduation ceremony. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Despite COVID-19 changing things up for students this year, Belmont Secondary graduates were all smiles as they celebrated the end of high school with a pandemic-friendly graduation ceremony.

Streamers and signs congratulating the class of 2020 added colour to Langford’s Westhills neighbourhood on Tuesday for the first day of graduation ceremonies. Students dressed in cap and gown arrived in groups to participate in small ceremonies where they watched a video and walked across the stage to receive their diploma.

Outside in the school parking family and friends gathered to cheer on the new graduates and take photos with them.

Valedictorian Keagan Tait was met by classmates chanting his name in the parking lot. He said it’s exciting and nerve wracking to enter the “real world.”

READ ALSO: West Shore principals hope strength and community mark 2020 grad

Tait will be working on his aunt and uncle’s farm up Island this summer and will be working at the House of Commons in Ottawa this fall.

In his valedictorian speech, Tait said he talked about supporting one another as a community, particularly because of the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19.

“It’s also an opportunity for us to shape our lives and the world around us,” Tait said. “We are the next generation coming up so it’s sort of up to us to take on current or old problems and I think we’re the right people for the job.”

READ ALSO: West Shore student petitions for more than a video graduation ceremony

In May, Sooke School District students received the news that graduation events would be cancelled due to COVID-19. Upon finding that out, Belmont student Brianna Gruber put together a petition that garnered nearly 5,000 signatures to have some sort of graduation ceremony.

Shortly after, SD62 announced students would be able cross a stage in graduation garb to commemorate the end of their high school career.

Amber Druken said being able to have a ceremony was exciting.

“It feels really rewarding,” Druken said. “I’ve been wanting this for so long … as a little girl watching movies you always expect a graduation ceremony … I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

Druken plans on getting a job next year and will be working on academic upgrading so she can study marine biology in university.

Other graduates said they had plans on working, going to school and most importantly, enjoying the summer.

The graduation ceremony at Belmont Secondary continues on June 24.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


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