Lights, camera, graduation

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St Columba’s College, Essendon, Year 12 graduation.5 November 2020

A global pandemic didn’t get in the way of the St Columba’s College, Essendon, Year 12 graduation. COVID-19 restrictions meant that the usual celebrations could not be held, so the college community gathered together to watch the graduation at Village Cinemas Coburg Drive-in.

Planning started back in June. Although restrictions were easing at the time, college leaders decided to prepare for a plan B. ‘We didn’t know how the end of the year would be, but it was important for us to celebrate our Year 12s’, said Brigitte McDonald, Deputy Principal at St Columba’s College.

Year 12s across the state have missed many milestones this year and, with the stress of end of year exams looming, celebrating in any way became a priority. The idea to gather at the drive-in cinema came from necessity. ‘Physical distancing has been a big part of this year and will continue to be for some time.’ Ms McDonald added, ‘We had to be creative in how we could bring our community together’.

With the drive-in cinema booked, the next challenge was creating a graduation that would work for the setting. Using the big screens as the platform, St Columba’s College filmed the graduation. Over two days, seven separate and small graduation ceremonies were held. Each one was filmed and edited along with musical performances, funny videos and the official Principal’s address to create one full-length ceremony.

On the night, families arrived at the Village Cinemas Coburg Drive-In to watch as a community. Horns blared, lights flashed and families cheered as they saw their daughters graduate. Everyone was elated to have been able to join together for such a momentous occasion. ‘It was super. It was beautifully done and very meaningful for both parents and girls’, said Cathy, a parent of one of the graduating students. ‘It really meant a lot to be able to do something during this time’, said Year 12 student Genevieve.