FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – North Peace Secondary School will repeat its virtual graduation ceremony again this year, and Principal Randy Pauls says he enjoys having a more personal experience.

It might seem counterintuitive that a virtual ceremony could be more personal and special, but anyone who’s been to graduation knows they’re more like a production line than a celebration.

“Normally in the arena, I only get to shake hands with a quarter of the grads because we have four stations set up. We can get through all of them in half an hour,” says Pauls.

“Here, I get to see them all, I can chat with them, joke with their families, pull some pranks on the kids who gave us a run for our money while they were here with us. Just really have a good time.”

Doing the grad ceremony this way does in fact take longer, but Pauls doesn’t mind.

“It’s fairly long, we have about 19 hours of recording to do. I’m on stage the whole time, but it’s quite invigorating. It goes by really fast.”

Graduates will be able to experience all of the usual events in slightly different forms. Pauls says there is a space to have the parent-student dance immediately following the stage walk, and instead of a parade, there will be a drive-by salute on the day of the video celebration.

“We can’t have parade routes that we can’t control, but we can have the grads lined up around the school on the sidewalk. We do a reverse parade where parents and family can come honk their horns and congratulate students.”

The weather made for an especially memorable reverse parade last year, according to the principal.

“Last year we had a beautiful sunny day, very hot actually. People had tents set up, and for a COVID-19 world last year, it was a wonderful celebration.”

Grad filming dates will be between June 8th and 10th. Students will get a link sent to their Learn60 email with signup information for their specific time. The graduation ceremony will be posted on June 18th.