With a string of flowers along the front of the stage, and lanterns akin to those seen in stories like Peter Pan and Snow White, the fairytale theme of the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute was prevalent on Tuesday afternoon.
The grade 12 class of 2022, along with friends and family, had the celebration at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre, creating a nearly packed house.
PACI principal Dave Lokinger said it was great to have an in-person grad to honour the Class of ’22.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a graduation back in the Rawlinson since the C-word that we shall not mention,” Lokinger said. “We’re very excited to have our graduates here in the Rawlinson Centre, to be celebrating this momentous occasion for these kiddoes.”
Lokinger said Tuesday’s ceremony is a mark of closure for a grad class that was in Grade 10 with COVID-19 first hit. He said it led to some long months and years for students, but he credited them for persevering despite the unexpected challenge.
“They have had school start up, then shut down,” he said. “Are we going to have basketball or are we not going to have basketball? Things like that were a stress, so I think for them, this marks the end of this (pandemic), and new beginnings for them as they become adults.”
Layna Merino, the winner of many honours including the Governor Generals’ Award for outstanding academic achievement, was also the PACI Class of 2022 Valedictorian.
Merino said it was great to be able to celebrate the class’ achievement together.
“I know our teachers have worked extremely hard to put this all together,” she said. “It’s the first grad back after Covid, and I don’t think any of us are disappointed. We are all very excited to be here.
“Just seeing how all of the hard work that our grads and the teachers and staff have put into making this happen for us is the best thing about the afternoon.”
When asked what advice she would give to future graduates about their own celebrations, Merino was quick to answer.
“Have fun and just focus on being in the present, making memories…and spending time with your friends, families, and loved ones,” she said. “Just have a great time.”