Simcoe County schools prepare for unique graduation ceremonies

High school students across Simcoe County will celebrate their graduation in unique ways this year.

St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic School in Barrie, Ont. will welcome graduating students back to receive their diplomas.

"Students will be able to come to the school to get their diploma and walk along the red carpet and have their moment like they would have if they were in person," said St. Catherine of Sienna principal Rich Foshay.

Holly Trinity Catholic High School in Bradford, Ont. will also open its doors to students and provide a live stream of speeches.

"We have categorized our graduating students by surname, and they will be coming in from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. dressed in their cap and gown, and we will give them their diploma," said Holy Trinity principal Heinrich Bebie.

Last week, Premier Doug Ford announced schools would not be reopening this school year and encouraged schools to hold outdoor grad ceremonies for all grades, leaving school boards scrambling.

With the final virtual school bell about to ring on the 2020-2021 school year, time is limited for school boards to adjust to the changes.

"Our schools have been working for several months, some of them since January, to put these virtual celebrations-these hybrid celebrations together-these things take time," said Pauline Stevenson, communications manager for Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.

The public board in Simcoe Muskoka is planning similar events, with some schools offering a drive-thru diploma pick-up.