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Burnaby’s Class of 2020: Graduating During a Pandemic

This year’s Grade 12s most certainly have a graduation story to tell their grandchildren. Nevertheless, many are also grieving the ceremony and celebration they imagined. While it’s not what they thought it would be when their final year of high school began in September, there are still plans to make graduation special.

Normally there are large events at Bill Copeland Arena, but this year the space is serving as a warming centre that can – with its vast size – enable physical distancing in a place that helps homeless people get out of the cold. Restrictions on gathering sizes, due to COVID-19, resulted in the cancellation of all regular commencement ceremonies, grad dinners and dance celebrations.

This year all grads and their families will have a virtual ceremony spear-headed by the District for the week of June 22. Students will have already picked up graduation essentials, such as caps with tassels, gowns and certificates. The virtual ceremony has special surprises, as well as speeches, musical presentations, grad videos and more. Every graduate in the District will be recognized.

Additionally – all while keeping the collective health and safety of everyone at the forefront – individual high schools, along with student and parent groups, are working hard to put the finishing touches on unique plans. From small groups of graduates crossing the stage outdoors, to pictures of grads in full, formal regalia, the ideas are well underway.

Superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen:

Our hearts ache for our graduates—we know that the Class of 2020 is courageous and resilient, as we have seen in all that they have accomplished in these past 13 years. And, without a doubt, they will make the best of everything.”

She adds that Burnaby’s Class of 2020 deserves a graduation that is worthy of their years of accomplishments.

“There is not a single doubt that our graduates are the leaders of today and tomorrow. Their strength, courage and strong voices set examples for us all.”


Read the Burnaby Now story about graduation this year.

Read our story about how another graduation rite of passage was maintained.

Burnaby North Secondary grad honoured in a star-studded CTV special on the Class of 2020 put on in partnership with the WE Movement

We are excited to share some of the creative ways our Class of 2020 is marking this milestone.
Follow us on Twitter @burnabyschools to see their ideas and celebrations as they come to fruition.

Congratulatory Ad in the Burnaby Now feature from the Board of Education to Graduates