The sleepy town of Shawville, Quebec did not let Covid-19 stop them from celebrating their graduates. They took a Prom Must Go On attitude giving the class of 202o a very unique and socially distant send-off.
65 grads of Pontiac High School dressed in formal attire rode though the streets of town to the cheers and congratulations of the community members along the route. Generations of parents, grandparents friends, and neighbours, many of them graduates of Pontiac High School themselves, came out to take part in the two-hour event.
“This can only happen in a small town,” said Sandra Murray, Mayor of Shawville, a town of 1,500 75 kms west of Ottawa. “The collaboration of the School Board, the Sûreté du Québec, our local business community, Fire Department and staff of the High School was incredible. This event was a month in the making.”
Local salons volunteered to style the girls’ hair, nails and make up, the owner of the grocery store donated flowers and business owners donated and drove trucks to allow each graduate to maintain a safe social distance. A group of girls who had graduated last year offered their dresses to those who had not been able to shop for one during the quarantine.
“When Covid-19 stole the remainder of your graduating year and all of the things that went with it, you had a choice, let that happen, or make other plans. We made other plans,” said Principal Debra Stephens from high above the assembled crowd.
Riding along with the graduates were the Mayor, Sandra Murray, the Deputy of the Pontiac, André Fortin, Member of Parliament, Will Amos, and the Warden of the MRC Pontiac, Jane Toller.
“I cannot believe how many people there were in the streets,” said Jack Alexander, a graduate. “There were so many signs and balloons. People were shouting and waving. I was blown away when we rounded the corner to the school and all of my teachers were outside cheering. I have never been to a regular prom, but this was pretty cool.”
The parade wound up at the Shawville Fairgrounds where the Principal addressed the crowd and a class picture was taken from overhead.
“You are the class of 2020. We will always remember you for the strong, capable and intelligent young men and women that you are. I hope you will remember how much your school and your community cared about you. Congratulations Pontiac High Class of 2020,” said Stephens as she closed her speech.
Parents picked up the graduates at the end of the evening. Picture taking and visiting with friends was not allowed. There would be no dancing or grad parties this time. Everything is on hold for now with hopes that a formal dinner and convocation ceremony can be held in the fall.
“I am still planning for a normal November graduation ceremony,” said Stephens. “I don’t know if this darned disease is planning for that, but I am planning for that.”
Principal Debra Stephens May 30 announcement of the parade