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Graduating in the time of covid-19

We all know how unprecedented these past three months have been for our community, country and, to a large extent, the entire world. While we were able to continue providing our learning remotely, our Kindergarten, 5th grade and 8th grade students were still having to cope with a very unusual context as they were all reaching important milestones in their education at the international School of Orange County.

Traditionally, the three grades enjoy a graduation ceremony celebrating their accomplishments right before the end of the school year. With the closure of our campus, our school administrators and faculty had to find creative ways to offer our students a proper celebration while remaining safe and socially distant.

The first step was creating and distributing special graduation yard signs for our Kindergarten, 5th grade and 8th grade students. Their teachers and our school director took the time to deliver every single sign to their home, allowing the proud students to display their achievement right on their front yard.

Our Kindergarten class gathered online for a virtual graduation ceremony. While this format was certainly a first, every student still had an opportunity to record and share their traditional speech, but also to look at beautiful pictures of their school year and get their diplomas delivered virtually by their French and English teachers. It was particularly emotional for both teachers and students to end an amazing Kinder year online rather than in-person.

Among other changes in their lives, our 5th grade students had to face the cancellation of their 10-day trip to Paris. For our 8th graders, the most difficult part was certainly having to accept a very unexpected end to their years of education at a campus that was now closed. With this in mind, our school decided to organize a drive-by graduation parade for our 5th and 8th graders that would complement their virtual ceremonies. While their online morning session was devoted to speeches and traditional slideshows highlighting their best 2019-2020 memories, their afternoon was without a doubt just as important as all of them were invited to drive by the campus with their parents. With proper safety and social distancing measures in place, they were given their diploma and able to take memorable photos with their teachers and our staff. As our 8th graders were ready to embark on a new journey, all of us felt lucky to have an opportunity to say one last congratulation, this time in-person.

Once again, our International School of Orange County community has proven that we were there for each other in these challenging times, and that our spirit was very much alive, covid-19 or not!

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