Teachers search for grads, deliver diplomas by bus

Congratulations MSS graduate Austin Purvis! MSS teachers, staff and administration joined together to visit this year’s graduating students on a graduation bus parade to recognize this special moment for the students. In photo, from left, are MSS teachers Lisa Addison, Mike Zegil, graduating student Austin Purvis (of Gore Bay), MSS teacher Dawn Noble McCann and MSS principal Jamie Mohamed.

MANITOULIN – Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) graduating students and their parents had something to really smile about this past Monday, even during this most difficult of years, with an MSS staff-led graduation bus parade full of teachers and administration visiting each of the students’ homes on Monday to bade them congratulations on graduating.

“This is just great,” stated student Larissa Chevrette of Gore Bay.

This sentiment rang true for parents as well, with one stating, “this is really a fantastic thing you’re doing for the students.”

“With all the challenges the students have faced this year, and this being the end of the school year we (MSS staff) wanted to find a way to acknowledge all the students who are graduating,” stated Jamie Mohamed, MSS principal, this past Monday morning. “We couldn’t hold the typical end-of-the-school-year graduation ceremonies, but we all felt that we needed to acknowledge this major milestone in these young students lives, while following public health guidelines.” 

The idea for a surprise bus drive parade, “we felt was a good way to mark this special occasion,” said Mr. Mohamed. 

Mr. Mohamed said local bus companies, Brown’s, A.J. Bus Lines and Brian Corbiere Busing donated their buses, drivers and worked with the Sudbury Student Services Consortium to make the parades happen. 

Four buses headed out at 4 pm this past Monday, two heading for eastern Manitoulin, one for the central areas and one for Western Manitoulin destinations. “We will have eight staff members or less on each bus (which were decorated for the event),” continued Mr. Mohamed. 

“This great group of graduating students have had to, more than any other,  demonstrate resiliency, flexibility and patience, with their regular standard studies and the normal formalities that they would have been able to go through being disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” continued Mr. Mohamed. 

At each stop along the way, sirens would be going, and the song ‘Graduation (Friends Forever)’ would be playing as the students were greeted by the teachers, and presented with a small gift and their composites (graduation pictures). The students received a mug that on one side says ‘MSS Graduation 2020 A Year to Remember’ and on the other side features the Mustangs emblem. Cambrian Insurance provided each graduating student with a $25 gift certificate to spend at local Manitoulin Island businesses.

Mr. Mohamed stressed MSS is also planning to hold a normal graduation in the fall. “We have the flexibility of having the annual MSS Awards Night every year, and what we are looking at is attaching the graduation ceremonies with the awards night. The awards night is usually held on the last Thursday before Christmas. If, however, a lot of students are taking part in on campus (university/college) exams then the graduation ceremonies will take place December 22.