It was a graduation ceremony like no other for Nakusp Secondary School and Arrow Lakes Distributed Learning School graduates on June 12.
The event kicked off with a vehicle parade ceremony around NSS, Nakusp Elementary School and the arena in the early afternoon.
Many graduates sat in the back of trucks to see dozens of onlookers cheering them on along the parade route.
Adding to the dazzling display, motivational signs and the graduates’ names were put on the back and fronts of the vehicles.
Afterward, two guests accompanied each graduate at NSS for dinner, speeches and an awards ceremony.
School principal Peter Gajda said one particular speech resonated with all of the graduates.
“We had our former RCMP liaison officer Lee Bellamy, whose now stationed in Bella Bella, do a special video about all the graduates. He was here when all the graduates arrived at the school in Grade 8,” said Gajda.
“Bellamy was originally planning to be here to escort the graduates into the graduation ceremony. Since he couldn’t attend the event, he sent the seven minute video to outline all his memories of the them. It was really touching.”
During the awards ceremony, around $57,000 in scholarships and school awards was handed out to the graduates.
Gajda talked about the graduates’ future plans, what they liked most about their time at NSS and who inspired them in their lives as they collected their awards.
NSS students Sonja Petterson and Kimberly Roberts also were each awarded separate Beedie Luminaries scholarships of up to $40,000.
Near the end of the event, a graduate and parent dance was held to continue a longstanding tradition at NSS.
Finally, graduates assembled six feet apart at the back of the gym to throw their caps high up into the sky.
To let everyone see the event, local videographer Lee Orr set up a recording device near the graduation stage to livestream the event on Youtube.
“I got two or three dozen emails from families last Friday and Saturday saying they were so thankful they got to watch the ceremony online,” said Gajda.
“They were so appreciate that they got to see their relative, grandchild or friend receive their accolades.”
More than 100 people watched the livestreamed video online during the ceremony.
NSS will look at livestreaming future graduation ceremonies in the years to come, according to Gajda.
Gajda said he couldn’t be more proud of the graduates during these difficult times.
“The graduates were extremely appreciative that they got to have some type of celebration, especially with the recognition that it would have to be different this year,” said Gajda.
“This class really rose to the occasion in the sense of adjusting to remote learning, finishing the year and celebrating it the best way they could.”