Grad file photo

Learning continues at William E. Hay despite pandemic challenges

‘Graduation, in a typical year, always brings with it great emotion, and this year it brings even more’

By Sarah Baker

Despite the ongoing pandemic, teachers have been teaching and students have been learning at William E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus.

Staff have been incredibly creative in how they are able to still offer quality programs in a COVID-19 year, said Principal Myranda Shepherd.

Students are still able to take the full complement of options including Foods, Fabrication, Cosmetology, Construction, and other classes, she said.

“William E. Hay has always prided itself in being able to offer all of the opportunities of a big city school within our small school context. We are able to stay true to that again this year.”

All core classes have been offered with smaller class sizes, she said.

“Our goal has always focused on attempting to create experiences for students that were of quality by problem-solving through all of the logistical complexities to make them happen.”

The staff has also worked to ensure that the structure of learning has remained similar to what it would have been in a regular year. “I am proud of our staff for being so passionate about their courses and making them work within the guidelines and regulations determined by AHS and Alberta Education,” said Shepherd.

Staff members have also been able to offer some unique experiences including a theatre production of Little Women which was live streamed to the community and more. “Our band also recently participated in the Stettler Music Festival, badminton season just wrapped up, and our archery team participated in a tournament and is organizing their own home virtual tournament.”

The school’s Student Union has also been working hard to provide activities and events for the students as well, said Shepherd.

However, COVID-19 has still impacted the school outside the classrooms.

“Students are not able to linger and gather in the hallways; we are not able to hold pep rallies and assemblies that build school spirit, and our hallways are zoned by grade so there is not a crossover of staff and students on a regular basis.”

Gatherings are what have been most impacted, and this is challenging in a school environment, said Shepherd.

“Those are the opportunities where we build culture and make school feel enriched.”

Also, no one expected that a year after the pandemic began to surface that the school would still have to plan grad around the restrictions, said Shepherd.

“Graduation, in a typical year, always brings with it great emotion, and this year it brings even more.”

The school is trying to stay true to the traditions of graduation in some way, shape, or form said Shepherd.

“Changing traditions brings angst and stress because the familiarity is removed, and in a year where everything feels out of our control, deviating from the traditions is a challenge.”

This year, graduation hoodies have been handed out early so the students can have more time to enjoy them, she said.

“The community will be able to see and recognize our graduates over the next few months and I encourage our community to acknowledge these young people and provide your congratulations to them.”

The theme of this year’s formal grad is ‘The Good Ol’ Days’ and there will be a hoodie parade outside of the Stettler Elementary School in mid-June, and a BBQ for the Grade 12 students.

Graduation for the 142 graduates will take place on June 25th.

“We are excited to be allowed the opportunity to celebrate our graduates and their accomplishments in a way that recognizes the significant milestone that they have reached,” she said.

”This is not the case in many communities across the province, and we are grateful for all the volunteers and organizers who are putting the time and effort into making something special happen for our grads.”