Class of 2021, we salute you - The Orca

Class of 2021, we salute you

Jody w Glasses 1

Jody Vance: This year’s graduating class have already missed so many moments they’ll never get back. Let’s help give them a cap-and-gown memory most of us take for granted.

Very few life events have stuck in my memory banks like my graduation.

Not necessarily the parties (those were fun, don’t get me wrong) or the Grad Camping (glad I survived THAT), and even ahead of our Grad Night at the Commodore Ballroom in all of our ‘80s taffeta and baby’s breath glory. Most of all, I remember the cap and gown, march across the stage, and commencement ceremony. That’s where it hit me — I made it.

While so many of us are excited at the mere hint of a return to a semblance of normalcy, today’s Middle offers an idea just for the emerging adults who stand to miss their lightbulb moment: 2021 grads.

With respect to the class of 2020 who endured terrifying times through their experience, vaccines and lessons from the last 16 months can help make this year’s commencement a lot more normal.

As you read this, under Phase 1 of BC’s reopening, these gatherings break public health orders. Thousands of BC students will not experience that cap and gown stage stroll to receive their diplomas, with their folks weeping in the audience.

Could school and health officials work together to create safe spaces, WorkSafeBC approved places, where classes could book times to have their Grad Moment?

We already know the risk is much smaller outdoors or in open air venues. So consider BC Place, a government owned facility, going mostly unused at the moment. Imagine a stage with a seats safely spaced on the field, and audio/visual techs saving the experience for each student. Let mom and dad (or dad and dad, or mom and mom) safely watch from the stands.

PNE employees could run it; vaccine clinics have certainly proven they can manage crowds safely. Think of the employment opportunities for young people to take part in this. Keep safety high and risk low.

BC Place is obviously in the Lower Mainland, but there are outdoor facilities – amateur sports fields, amphitheatres, and more – that across the province that could host similar events.

With a little ingenuity and elbow grease this could happen. Would it come with cost? Yes. But schools typically run (and pay for) graduation events – and publicly-owned facilities could be made available for little or no charge.

Teens on the verge of being thrust into society have missed out on the most fun part of the 12-year scholastic journey. They’ve weathered this pandemic in ways that should be acknowledged. The majority of them have bought into strict protocols for these last 16 months, forced to see their launch into adulthood exponentially accelerated.

With the emergency stage of COVID19 coming to an end and loosening and exemptions beginning elsewhere in our country, might there be an argument to find an exemption for grads to experience this pivotal piece of personal experience?

It could be fun. It could be done safely and with proper protocols. Getting creative with how to get some normalcy back should be our next challenge.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.