The community is coming together this week in an effort to give the Class of 2020 the best graduation it can under the challenging conditions brought about by Covid-19 this school year at Arviat’s John Arnalukjuak High School (JAHS).

Graduates from John Arnalukjuak High School’s (JAHS) Class of 2019 will be looking on this week as the 40 current graduates of JAHS’s Class of 2020 receive their high school diplomas during a drive-by presentation in front of the school steps in Arviat on June 19.
photo courtesy Gord Billard

A total of 40 students are expected to receive their Grade 12 diplomas during the grad event on June 19.

The week’s celebrations are scheduled to get underway on Wednesday, June 17, and Thursday, June 18, with a grad photo shoot co-ordinated and shot by teacher Gord Billard.

The graduates comprising the Class of 2020 will then receive their high school diplomas during a drive through diploma pickup on the front steps of JAHS beginning at 1:30 p.m. the following day.

The diploma ceremony is scheduled to be immediately followed by a grads-only Parade of Celebration around the community in tribute to JAHS’s Class of 2020.

Social distancing will be respected and its guidelines adhered to throughout the activities, which will also include the distribution of special food hampers to the grad families to further recognize the educational achievement of the graduates, and a radio show will be broadcast in the community featuring the members of JAHS’s Class of 2020 themselves.

Acting JAHS principal Chi-chi Arinze said if everything goes according to plan, it is hoped the grads-only parade will capture all 40 of the graduates together in a continuous conga line of sorts.

She said that way viewers should see each of the Class of 2020 graduates on a Honda wearing their graduation gown.

“That will be a very different presentation than the usual parade, which would have family members of the graduates and other members of the community celebrating,” said Arinze. “But, this time, we want it to be just the grads.”

Arinze said everyone was waiting to see what would happen with the pandemic restrictions as the traditional end of the school year was fast approaching.

She said the community was, of course, hoping to hear the restrictions would be lifted by August. But, while hope for that news arriving in time may have begun to fade, it did nothing to stem the rising sense of pride the community displays for its high school graduates every year.

“The excitement level over the graduation just kept on intensifying in town until it reached a level where we just had to do something.

“At that point, we decided to meet with the parents and teachers and that’s when we came up with this plan.

“I don’t want to exaggerate but, right now, this is the talk of the town as we prepare for the event with involvement from our hamlet, the fire department and members of our business community, as well as expected appearances by our MLA and members of the District Education Authority.

“Everyone will have a specific time slot to show up and participate on the 19th. People who cannot attend the event in person will also be able to watch the proceedings on the JAHS page on Facebook, so, really, it is a true community event.”

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