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Convocation postponed, Algoma U to hold virtual celebration in June

Students invited to share testimonials, memories in upcoming Zoom celebration of student achievement

“Convocation has always been an important milestone in a student’s life.”

That from David Marasco, Algoma University registrar, speaking to SooToday in an interview earlier this week.

That milestone event, however, won’t happen for Algoma University students this summer due to Ontario government restrictions on public gatherings of more than five people due to COVID-19 fears.

Algoma has postponed, not cancelled, its in person convocation ceremonies for students at their Timmins and Brampton campuses as well as its main campus in Sault Ste. Marie.

The traditional Algoma University 2020 convocation was originally scheduled for Saturday, June 6.

Instead, a virtual celebration will take place Saturday, June 13, beginning at 1 p.m.

Algoma students, staff and faculty, through email, have been invited to register and attend via Zoom.

“What we’re planning for June 13 is a virtual celebration of academic achievement and student success,” Marasco said. 

“It’s nothing near a convocation ceremony. We think that the students deserve better and they actually need a ceremony in person (Algoma’s convocation ceremonies normally being a grand summer affair held at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion).”

“(But) I think a virtual celebration to recognize student achievement and success will be interesting. We have speakers on the docket, including the president, the chancellor, the academic dean, our faculty chairs, the board of governors chair, myself... we’ll be giving congratulatory comments to the students,” Marasco said.

“I think it’ll be fun for the students who register. There'll be pre-recorded video messages and we’ll be doing some live things on that day as well, where students can chime in. We’re also getting our student leadership to chime in and have some comments, and we’re also reaching out to some students to give testimonials so we can have them live or pre-recorded.”

“We’ve got over 100 students who have replied to our original email and we’re promoting it through social media and our website, and there’s still lots of time,” Marasco said.

“That speaks volumes to me (regarding the spirit of students at Algoma) unfortunate as this situation is, instead of constantly looking at the negatives, I think this celebration of achievement will go well, and those that are asked to share testimonials, their memories over the last three or four years, will make it a good time for all.”

“I feel sorry for the students, given the circumstances. They want to cross the stage (and receive their diplomas) but in the absence of family members attending, this is the best we can do,” Marasco said.

“It’s unfortunate. Hopefully we can have a convocation ceremony in the fall, in October or November (to be held in the George Leach Centre).” 

204 Algoma students will receive degrees, another 270 to receive certificates, Marasco said.