Project by City to recognize Class of 2020 moving forward

The City's billboard/ Lucas Punkari

The City of Prince Albert will be using the city-owned electronic billboard to pay tribute to the many graduates in the Class of 2020. At the executive committee meeting on Monday, May 25 council moved ahead with a plan to use the billboard on Second Avenue to honour grads.

Council is expected to give final approval of the plan at their next meeting on Monday, June 1. Council approved the motion brought forward by Ward 8 Coun. Ted Zurakowski, who was enthusiastic about the plan.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate those graduates in our community that are going without high school graduation in whatever form it may or may not take place. These are our families in the community and our students as well,” Zurakowski said.

“I think in this way we can, as the City of Prince Albert, recognize those families and those graduates,” he added.

Coun. Blake Edwards of Ward 6 also voiced enthusiasm.

“I am very pleased with the report, I am very pleased we have come up with some solutions to it and good job,” Edwards said.

Mayor Greg Dionne also voiced his pleasure for the concept.

After an earlier inquiry by council communications manager Kylie Bear reported that her office had received a number of requests from graduation groups in the city about recognition on the billboard. The city’s criteria is that it is for city use but some groups can also use the service. The groups were initially advised that it did not fit city criteria, but upon further review of the request, Bear thought this was a feasible method.

“I have had a chance to review the request for the use of the billboard since that is what was originally coming into my office and I knew it was a popular option,” Bear said to council.

“I think that it can be accomodated,” she added.

Issues such as privacy and the massive number of graduates were raised but Bear explained that this can be worked through by communication with the school divisions in the city. They would have to be provided with releases for image use to go forward. As well, the divisions and schools would have to provide the images as collection is a time-consuming task.

“So if they would be willing to help with that I think that administratively it would be a simple enough task for me to just drop those images into the billboard and then dedicate a week for graduates and just make it exclusively for them since it would dominate with that many on the screen,” Bear said.

According to Lorel Trumier, director of education with the Prince Albert Catholic School Division this process is already under way. She explained that they are getting pieces together for the project.

“We will look at getting consent from our students so that can happen and we are going to work with the city to see if we can acknowledge our grads. They worked very hard and this is not the ideal situation of what everybody thought graduation would be this year, us included, but we have to do this safely. So we are very appreciative of the opportunity that the city has given to acknowledge the grads in a special way,” she said.

The administration recommendation is that the billboard be dedicated to graduates between June 21 and June 27.

-With files from Jason Kerr