Current restrictions in Victoria do not allow us to have parents in our schools. Year 12 students completed their external (and final) exams yesterday. It is customary to hold the graduation dinner on the day of the last exams. Usuato have 30 people to gather outside. As the class is very small, it was hoped that an evening outdoor picnic could allow this event to be face to face with the small class of students, their parents and teachers.
As the day approached, the weather forecast was not good – cold with rain. One week prior, the event was changed to an online one using MS Teams. This would allow more family members to attend as 10 people can now gather in private homes. All staff could also login and now attend. Our assistant prinicpal organised invitations to go home, gift packs and certificates. I went up to school with the assistant principal and School Council president. I gave technical help and support (see more below).
At 6:30pm, students, families and teachers logged in to the celebration together with the pet dogs etc!! Some students
Welcome to Country, Introductions
Slide show presentation of students as babies through to today. There were many photos of the many wonderful things that students had been invovled in during their time at Hawkesdale P12 College.
A 30 minute break was given so that students and families could enjoy the special dinner or meal that they had prepared to celebrate.
School Captain Speeches – some of the best I have heard thanking the staff and school for their time with us.
Staff and students shared what they had for dinner. Our Filipino family had the most interesting – started with cucumber salad, then Sam ate 6 pork chops and they were going to finish with a mango dessert.
Opening the gift bags – yoyos, coffee mug with school emblem, pen, key chain with individual names, placemat featuring student photos, certificate etc.
Presentation of coffee mugs to the families who are now leaving our school. Using their webcameras, students presented them to their parents.
Student Awards – usually would be given during the formal final assembly at night time. This is unlikely to go ahead in 2021 due to restrictions.
School Council President Speech
School Principal’s Speech
Final Thanks and Farewells
The event was completely COVID safe – families were gathered in their own homes, as were staff. We did not have to worry about who was double vaxed and who wasnt. (As unvaccinated people could not attend). There is something special in being able to share with staff, students and families when they are in their own homes and within their own comfortable spaces. There was a lot of interaction – a lot more than if we were in a more formal setting. There were smiles and laughter for much of the time. Some families had decorated their homes in celebration. Pet dogs and cats were inside and also part of the celebration.
Our assistant principal did a great job organising the event and being the compere! He kept it flowing, encouraged lighter conversations at times (eg sharing what they had to eat for their dinner), made everyone feel at ease and the use of web camera. Students and speakers were always spotlighted so that they could be readily seen on participants’ screens. Everyone enjoyed the event.
Students were savvy about setting up their laptops at home so that their families could also see. They logged on using a team especially set up for the Graduation event.
Any awards, gift bags, certificates were sent to the student homes prior to the event.
Make sure everyone is aware of the agenda prior to the meeting eg a 30 minute pause was given in order to eat their dinner. Dessert occurred at the end of the event.
Always have a second person with full presenter rights. They can be the technical assistant – muting microphones when needed, monitoring the chat, spotlighting attendees when they were speaking, sharing screens and presentations etc.
Ensure that the sound system is selected when the slideshow is presented.
Be prepared to ad lib when their are awkward or silent moments.
Make everyone feel at ease.
Encourage students to introduce family members who were present by using the webcamera.
Have some music on standby when there is waiting time.
Record this important occasion for archiving