School closures have impacted the daily lives of all parents and students, but Canadian Grade 12 graduates are grieving a different kind of loss: their final year with friends.
Local mom, Allyson Craig, sympathized with her son, Nicholas Niro, who is in the Grade 12 graduating class at St. Mary’s College. Her brainstorming led to a video project that gives graduating students an opportunity to voice their hopes for the future, and their frustrations with the present pandemic.
“Nicholas has friends from multiple schools across the Soo and many of them are upset about losing their final year of high school – and the chance to get to the high school finish line with friends by their side,” says Craig. “They may not even get that all-important graduation ceremony. We just don’t know yet.”
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation portfolio manager started to edit a few of the entries from friends in her spare time and the result was truly powerful.
“Once we put out a call for videos from people in ‘Grad Class 2020’, the idea just took off. Each video starts with the student introducing who they are – what school they go to, their name, then this is followed by a 10-second message about what this social distancing time has meant for them and something they might be looking forward to.”
The goal is to edit the responses into a single film which will then be distributed to all the participating students.
“I wasn’t able to get a list of graduating students from each school because of privacy issues, of course,” says Craig. “But the call is out there – and anyone who wants to contribute should contact us to be part of the video.”
She emphasizes that she would not post the video on a social media site because not everyone would necessarily consent to that. “It’s a keepsake for the participating students,” says Craig. “Something that encapsulates this unique situation and shows they are not alone – all grads have common feelings about this.”
She notes that some of the female students get really dressed up for the videos, some students play music or sing a song, while others talk about needing haircuts.
“But the overall message we get in various forms is ‘this really sucks, I can’t see my friends . . . but maybe if we stick this out together, we can at least have the summer together,” says Craig. “I’ve seen the impact this has on my own son – and basically, students like everyone else, have to take this pandemic one day at a time.”
Craig's only concern is she does not want to exclude people from the project who might have wanted to participate. If you know a Grade 12 grad, they can get in touch via: firstname.lastname@example.org.