George Elliot Secondary School graduate Kelbrai Mellum collects her diploma June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

Lake Country grad ceremony debuts online

Celebrate the George Elliot Secondary School Class of 2020 on YouTube

George Elliot Secondary School staff rallied behind the Class of 2020 to ensure its 119 graduates had a celebration to remember, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Grad co-ordinator Monica Davidson said the students traditionally walk to the red carpet in their formal wear to their prom, but due to provincially ordered health restrictions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the 2020 GESS grad was anything but traditional.

Ideas were tossed around about what the grad committee could do to honour the milestone in this unprecedented year.

A 120-car parade through the community and its four wards could allow for parents, neighbours and members of the community celebrate the grads as they drive by in decorated vehicles. The parade would terminate at the red carpet walk where students could collect their diplomas and awards and pose for a photo op for family and loved ones.

The parade idea was squashed when Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced gatherings of no more than 50 also applied to vehicles.

“There was so much red tape at the beginning, we decided to drop that idea,” Davidson said. “We were nervous about the parade because of traffic and safety as well.”

The red carpet walk was still a go, though.

On June 7, students came in small groups every 20 minutes to the parking lot of GESS. There, they were greeted by teachers, a TV crew and family members.

One at a time, the students exited their family vehicle, walked the red carpet and collected their diplomas, all while their family drove alongside them.

“Every parent had a front row seat,” Davidson said, from their cars, of course.

“It was a beautiful day,” she said. “The sun came out amidst the rain. It was a huge success.”

The entire day was captured by SW Event Technology’s founder Cal McCarthy.

That footage, along with speeches from Valedictorian Grace Robinson, school principal and GESS teachers were compiled into a more than two-hour-long film which first aired on YouTube Friday, June 19.

Perspective Media Inc.’s Grant McBride captured aerial drone images and video of the graduates’ red carpet walk.

“We are lucky to be a small grad class and hence able to this for them,” Davidson said about the three-hour event.

But, she said it was a major undertaking to plan the event and she praised the GESS staff and teachers.

“Brendalee Robinson, she was just my sidekick,” Davidson said. “She’s the school secretary and a grad mom and she was my saving grace. I bounced every idea off her.”

Robinson is not only the mother of the valedictorian, but a GESS grad herself, Davidson noted.

“This is a huge celebration for kids and for the community who helped them get here,” Davidson said.

The entire event can be streamed on the Central Okanagan Public Schools’ YouTube channel.

READ MORE: Lake Country singer’s country hit goes viral

READ MORE: COVID-19: Vernon won’t be drinking in public


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


George Elliot Secondary School graduate Madison Muir walks the red carpet June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

George Elliot Secondary School graduate Scott Halston walks the red carpet June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

George Elliot Secondary School’s Leonie Steigenberger walks the red carpet June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

George Elliot Secondary School’s John Henderson walks the red carpet June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

George Elliot Secondary School’s Taysia Mackie-Bannick walks the red carpet June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

Behind the scenes of George Elliot Secondary School’s graduation event amid COVID-19. (Contributed)

George Elliot Secondary School’s Rio Manning is cheered on by teachers Monica Davidson and Darcie Ramsay June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

George Elliot Secondary School Class of 2020 Valedictorian Grace Robinson walks the red carpet June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

George Elliot Secondary School’s Taylor Carpenter strikes a pose on the red carpet June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

George Elliot Secondary School’s Kierann Temlar gives thumbs up at the grad event June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

George Elliot Secondary School’s Jasanna Kunz is cheered on as she walks the red carpet June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

George Elliot Secondary School’s Jessye Large gives a wave from the red carpet June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

Tessa and Max Ivans pose at the George Elliot Secondary School grad event June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

George Elliot Secondary School’s Kyla Reade looks stunning in her formal gown June 7, 2020. (Contributed)

Just Posted

No bucks for Ellison park expansion, ministry tells Vernon chamber

Vernon Chamber of Commerce vows to help government connect with potential funding partners to see Chelsea Estate purchased

COVID-19: Vernon fields and courts ready for booking

Local sport organizations will soon be able to get back out on the field for limited activities

$500 fine for Vernon man caught near Coldstream playground

Richard Slobodian, 58, served one night in jail and ordered to pay for breaching probation

House arrest for Vernon physiotherapist guilty of sexual assault

Stephen Witvoet to serve 18-month conditional sentencing following July 8 hearing

Kelowna woman fights off nighttime intruder

Kelowna RCMP are investigating a break-and-enter on Richter Street

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Kelowna taxpayers could pay $90K for losses caused by cancelled Memorial Cup

$135,000 would be put aside for a potential bid for a future opportunity to host the tournament

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Motorcycle rider seriously injured in collision with vehicle on Highway 97 west of Pritchard

Chase RCMP report that motorcycle was attempting to pass when crash occurred

Predator mutilated cats in Kelowna: BC SPCA

The BC SPCA confirmed a mutilated cat was killed by a predator

LETTER: Former Summerland mayors speak out on solar project

Five former Summerland mayors sign name to short letter

Emergency crews conduct CPR on unresponsive person in Okanagan Lake

West Kelowna emergency crews are on scene at the shores of Jubilee Mobile Home Park

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Most Read