The Nisga’a Elementary Secondary School (NESS) has a plan to make graduation special for its students finishing their education.
It’s located in Gitlax̱t’aamiks, the largest village in the Nass Valley, and is the valley’s only secondary school.
Normally, the school holds an open invitation commencement ceremony in the gymnasium, but with COVID-19 restrictions in place that is not an option.
The ceremony is scheduled to take place on June 20. Students will make an appointment to graduate and they will be able to bring two family members with them. Volunteers and staff are planning to decorate the gym as if it was a normal graduation ceremony.
“Each graduate will be able to walk in with their two support people, they’ll be able to walk the red carpet, cross over the bridge and then receive their graduation certificate,” said Elsie Davis, School District 92 board chairperson.
The school is setting up a big screen outside, so members of the same household can watch the grad exchange on a live stream.
When graduates walk out the other door, their family and household members can be there cheer and greet them.
Nisga’a Elementary Secondary is also hiring a local videographer to compile all of the speeches and record the grads. The footage will be edited together to resemble a normal ceremony that can be watched later.
According to Davis, there are 20 potential graduates this year, an increase from 16 in 2019 and eight in 2018.
“It’s slowly growing every year, we’ve been working really hard on our graduation numbers with our students and with our communities,” said Davis.
“Our staff at NESS really supports them and they are amazing, phenomenal cheerleaders for the kids.”
Technology is also being used in the Coast Mountains School District to give students a ceremony. Hazelton Secondary, Caledonia Secondary in Terrace and Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary school in Kitimat are all partnering with CityWest to create a video compilation that will be aired on television and online.