A jubilant mood outside Queens Place as proud parents, grandparents and members of the community gathered to celebrate the 2021 Liverpool Regional High School graduates.
For the second year in a row, the LRHS community had to find another way to acknowledge graduates as pandemic restrictions have forced the cancellation of traditional proms, safe grads and public graduation ceremonies.
Deborah Raddall says she and her fellow organizers simply followed the plan parents laid out last year.
Students were permitted to be seated six feet apart in front of Queens Place while their loved ones drove past to acknowledge their accomplishments.
Raddall says after her group bombed public health with letters asking for permission to hold the event, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of health Dr. Robert Strang not only endorsed the plan during one of his COVID-19 updates, he encouraged other schools to ‘steal’ it and adapt it for their own graduations.
“It’s a simple concept,” said Raddall. “We didn’t ask for more than they were prepared to give and I think that’s really why we got the okay. It was a reasonable, well, thought-out plan, safety was the primary thing.”
Graduate Jamie Dunn is one of many students who appreciates the efforts so many put in to give them a public celebration.
“It’s really nice that we have classmates with really caring parents that could organize this for us,” said Dunn. “I’m really grateful that everyone is here tonight, together.”
Parent Todd Wilms was on hand to cheer on his daughter Piper. He was glad to see so many people come out to celebrate the graduates.
“This is the epitome of a small community getting together, despite the circumstances here now with the pandemic. Wonderful,” said Wilms.
The excitement of the evening was tempered for some. Graduate Chris Bowers says he appreciates the effort but is a bit disappointed the pandemic has prevented students celebrating the end of their time together in a more traditional way.
“It’s not as exciting as I thought it would be but it’s better than nothing,” said Bowers.
When asked what he was hoping for, Bowers responded, “more together, more than just an hour with everyone. Safe grad is what I’m going to miss the most, not having that.”
Volunteers from Queens County Search and Rescue directed traffic as car after car, loaded with supporters, circled Queens Place several times, honking horns, waving signs and blowing bubbles.
Raddall’s daughter Ellen is among the 2021 graduating class. She was impressed with the turnout from the community and the resilience shown by her fellow graduates.
“It’s so incredible to see so many people out here today and seeing people who have driven from Bridgewater, like our teachers, just to come and celebrate us. It kind of makes up for the lack of grad we get because of COVID. It really didn’t crack our spirit at all,” said Raddall.
Ellen’s mom Deborah says the support from the community and the turnout really made all the effort worthwhile.
“It’s more than I envisioned. It’s so exciting. I’m trying to hold myself together from having lots of tears, you know, momma tears but it’s excellent,” said Raddall. “The kids are all excited. We’re across the parking lot and you can see them grinning from ear-to ear.”
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