M’CHIGEENG—Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) teachers, administration and staff again went above and beyond to make the 2021 student graduation event special by combining both a virtual graduation ceremony and holding a graduation bus tour as they did in 2020.
“It was fun,” stated MSS principal Jamie Mohamed after the official (Rainbow Board sanctioned) graduation ceremonies, held Monday, June 28. “The students were excited about the event. We know it can’t make up for formal graduation ceremonies taking place, but parents along with the students were happy with the initiatives we took to make the day special for each graduating student.”
Mr. Mohamed explained that several school buses, with MSS teachers, administration and staff on board, left MSS school property at about 1:30 pm in the afternoon, with each travelling to various areas to visit each of the graduating MSS students around Manitoulin.
“It was awesome to see the excitement of the students, their parents and families when we arrived at each grad’s house,” stated Margaret Stringer, a Manitoulin Island trustee with the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) who boarded one of the buses on its route.
“We did our very best to meet up with every graduate, in some cases with approval of their employee we visited the students at their work site. But for the most part, we went to the students’ homes to be able to visit with them and their family. The reception we received was very positive,” said Mr. Mohamed. He explained that at each stop of a graduating student, “music (graduation music) was being played, and large ‘congratulations graduates’ banners were displayed on the bus, and teachers and school staff would hold up the banners and we wished each student congratulations and said how proud MSS is of them.” As well there were balloons and pompoms being waved.
“Everyone got off the bus and congratulated each individual student, and presented them with a gift of a water bottle with the school logo and custom logo with ‘class of 2021’ on the bottles,” said Mr. Mohamed. “As well, Broker Link and Sue Thirkill Tessier provided gift cards for the students to use at various businesses across Manitoulin, and these were presented to each student.”
“LAMBAC paid for the water bottles which were presented to each of the graduating students,” continued Mr. Mohamed. “And A.J. Bus Lines and Brown Bus Lines donated all the buses for the day.”
Later that evening a virtual graduation was held with MSS emailing each graduating student a link to connect to on June 28 at around 6 pm where each student could view and share with friends and family.
The virtual graduation included a master of ceremonies presentation with additional comments made by RDSB trustees and Mr. Mohamed. Then, one by one, a picture of each individual graduating student came up on the screen and their name was read. Once this part of the celebration was complete the year’s school valedictorian, Darci Debassige, was introduced and she presented her speech. (Ms. Debassige’s speech appeared in last week’s edition of The Expositor and online at manitoulin.com.)
Among the RDSB trustee speakers at the celebration was Trustee Margaret Stringer. She stated in a video post, “good evening graduates and MSS staff, we are thrilled to be able to participate in this graduation ceremony. Parents and families, it is an honour to be able to celebrate along with you.”
“Teachers and staff also share with you how very proud they are of all the students,” said Ms. Stringer.
“Most of all, to the students—you have worked hard, persevered and been successful in meeting your goals,” said Ms. Stringer. “You have learned virtually and in person and met all the curves and changes of the past year and a half. The pandemic has changed every aspect of all of our lives.”
“This September you will each take the next step in your educational journey and hopefully more normal times,” stated Ms. Stringer.
The following list is of MSS graduating students who took part in the ceremonies: Tierra Abotossaway, Alina Arthurs, Kyra Bayer, Dayna Beauchamp, Brandon Bebonang, Natashia Bebonang, Tessa Bellmore, Aislinn Brown, Laura Brown, Cameron Buck-Orr, Memphis Cadieux, Emma Cassidy, Cole Chandler, Maggie Chapman, Dylan Corbiere, Ella Correa, Haylee Cress, Rory Dearing, Avia Debassige, Darci Debassige, Kacey Debassige, Shannon Debassige, Rachel Deforge, Carl Dickson, Owen Duncanson, Jessica Elliott, Myah Emerson, Cordell Fox, Michael Gibbons, Christopher Gillespie, Joe Graham, Mackensie Graham, Kyle Greenman, Noah Hare, Chase Hester, Michael Hore, Regan Hutchinson, Harmony Kaiser-Fox, Shade Kaiser, Leeam Kiley, Nathaniel Kimewon, Taylor King-Dafoe, Sharissa Lee, Aaron Leeson, Tyler Leeson, Malia Leighton, Alexandria Lewis, Tyler Lewis, Dylan Lockhart, Lauren MacKay, Braedan Makey, Matteus McCulloch, Hunter McGauley, Jaylen McGaughey, Hailey McGillis-Prior, Hank McBane, Jordan McLean, Gwenyth McLeod, Emily Moggy, Kennady Nakogee, Naomi Naokwegijig, Ayriell Nodecker, J.J. Panamick, Nyron Panamick-Hare, Macy Pearson, Jade Phiri, Nick Purvis, Jakeb Robinson, Andrew Roy, Skye Setterington, Nathan Temple, Jacey Varey, Reace Wallace, Kailee Williams, Amber Wiwchar, Kyle Wood, Sylena Wright, Bailey Yaschuk-Middaugh, Avia Zappia, and Monica Zilio.