It didn’t come together until the last minute, the weather didn’t completely cooperate and it was a bit of a hassle for families of graduating students to get in and out of the parking lot but, minor quibbles aside, the 2020 ceremony for graduating R.D. Parker Collegiate students was a success for the school and for Thompson as a whole.
It may have been unconventional, but graduates are probably happy that they got to have anything resembling a normal ceremony, which was anything but a given since the novel coronavirus first arrived in Manitoba around March and resulted not only in the cancellation of in-person classes for the last three-plus months of the school year, but of band and other class trips and the traditional prom in May as well.
As principal Rob Fisher pointed out in his speech to the graduates, the fact that this ceremony was able to be held was the result of cooperation from a great many people and organizations, including the City of Thompson, which agreed to open the Thompson Regional Community Centre for the occasion, Smitty from Music Makers, who managed to arrange to get the two giant screens in Thompson so that parents could watch from the parking lot, Paul Andersen from Shaw who livestreamed the whole ceremony on the internet, the School Distritc of Mystery Lake , which waived graduation fees for the students, and a local slo-pitch team who took on the unenviable task of getting more than 150 vehicles properly arranged in a Thompson parking lot. Whether these sort of actions are unique to Thompson, as Fisher’s speech asserted, is doubtful, but they are evidence that the community can and will come together to put on special events, as previously demonstrated by the successful hosting of the 2018 Manitoba Games.
RDPC wasn’t the only school to arrange graduation ceremonies for their students, but it was the largest and most complex operation with the most moving parts. That a school year unlike any since Thompson was founded was able to end with a little bit of normalcy for more than 150 students who concluded their high school careers by completing schoolwork at home only happened at all due to too many people to name, but the Class of 2020 will probably remember their high school graduation more clearly and more fondly than many of those who’ve gone through a similar ceremony in past years because it would have been so much easier just to not have it happen at all.
Congratulations to the Class of 2020!