Brad Redden raises his arms in excitement after hitting the stage as a 2020 LHS graduate. (Healey photo)

FALL RIVER: One didn’t have to look far to see how much fun those graduating Lockview High had at their community graduation, organized and put on thanks to many late night hours from parent volunteers and the support of the businesses in the area.

The 165 graduates that were on hand sitting six feet apart during the two-and-a-half-hour graduation ceremony were called to the makeshift stage on the entry ramp to the grandstand at Scotia Speedworld. They were presented a rose by two RCMP officers and their gift bag by a volunteer.

PHOTO GALLERY: LHS Community Graduation (Healey photos)

The community-led graduation, like others across N.S. had the approval of the provincial health department provided they followed set guidelines.

As emcee Jason Crowell was reading some of the sponsors that made the day possible, he was what seemed to be at the moment rudely interrupted by a second guy on a microphone coming from the bottom stage. That signalled it was time for the surprise performer to make his appearance.

Olivia Dube. (Healey photo)

With a quick introduction and the lyric playing to his latest hit Good News playing, Enfield hip hop artist Classified hit the stage for what he said was his first performance in nine months. Many of his recent shows over the past few months had been cancelled due to COVID19.

Classified performed three songs for the students before the graduation ceremony would resume. The first two the kids remained in their sitting chairs area but were dancing some moves. However, for the last song, Inner Ninja, the students all moved in closer to the stage and brought with it the feel of a real concert for the song, which lasted about three or four minutes.

This even allowed one young lady to sing the lyrics as if she were a big fan into the microphone as friends and fellow grads looked on in amazement. Two fellow grads were captured with amazing looking expressions as she sang.

Once the song ended the students, all with big smiles and not as much tension/anxiety for the big day and from the past few months between school being shutdown and their graduation up in limbo, headed back to their seats. Crowell resumed with the sponsors, before the ceremony kicked off.

The community graduation began with inspiring speeches from IWK CEO Jennifer Gillivan and RCMP Insp. Erin Peeper, which were both inspiring and motivating.

Once the speeches were done it was time for all the students on hand to go one-by-one up the walkway and across the makeshift stage.

After the students walked across the stage, the two RCMP officers—Insp. Peeper and Halifax District RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Lisa Croteau—would hand them a rose and a volunteer would give them their grab bag filled with items donated by local businesses.

Two of the graduating students were the recipients of the Fall River and Area Business Association (FRABA) bursaries, which was presented to them by Jason Crowell.

At the end LHS Student Council co-presidents Anna Coleman and Will Miller both gave a speech to their fellow graduates from the stage.

Louisa Horne was one of the FRABA Scholarship recipients. (Healey photo)

“While this isn’t the graduation we had anticipated, we are so thankful to our incredible community members who worked tirelessly to create a celebration for our Grade 12s,” the two said. “Congrats homies, we did it. Reunion in 2030?”

It was then time for the grad cap toss, an annual tradition done before the grad ceremony wraps up.

For this, Crowell called upon a “grand marshal” fitting seeing that they were at a racetrack. The Laker News’ Pat Healey was the one he called on stage. And with those famous words—no not “Drivers start your engines”—but “students, toss your cap” the students did as they were asked.

That concluded the community graduation making the students officially 2020 Lockview High graduates.

Rebecca Sampson. (Healey photo)

Councillor Steve Streatch commented about the uproar that followed a story aired on CTV Atlantic about a lack of physical distancing by the students.

“It was held outdoors in large area, and for the most part there was proper social distancing,” said Streatch. “Obviously, we were outside so it’s my understanding that masks are not needed when you’re outside, and we see that happening elsewhere.

“For a moment, and it was a matter of upwards of three or so minutes, in excitement and exuberance the students stood up, came together and cheered Classified on. Look, who would deny them that? They were really not causing the level of potential concern that a lot of people believe.”

After the graduation, several students were spoken to by The Laker News to get their thoughts on the ceremony and what it meant.

“Our graduation was even better than any grad I could have ever imagined,” said Felicia Wasson. “Having Classified perform was amazing.

“It was just a perfect end to an unusual year that I will never forget.”

Donovan Thompson felt the ceremony gave grads one last hurrah before going their separate ways.

“This was likely the last time all of us grads would be together in the same place,” he said.

Chelsea Boutilier said for a group of kids that were bummed they may not get a ceremony; they certainly came out winners in the end.

“For a class who didn’t think we would get a real graduation, I think we can say we had the best graduation in history,” she said. “I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

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She praised the parent volunteers for their work.

“We are so lucky to have dedicated parents who organized the whole event,” she said.

The community graduation was made possible by the following supporters: A&W; Aerotec Engines; Arbour Wealth; Barracuda Heating; MLA Bill Horne; Bond & Coolen; Cathy Deagle-Gammon; Christine Byrne Royal LePage; Commissionaires Nova Scotia; Costco Dartmouth Crossing; Dairy Queen Fall River; MP Darrell Samson; Dexter Construction; Elegant Creations- Irene Cropper; Emco Halifax; Empower Physical Rehabilitation; Gerald Mitchell Contracting; Gilby Construction (Ritchie Gilby); Guardian Drugs Fall River; Hair Design Clayton Park; Ian Nearing Inc.; IMP Solutions; Inn on the Lake; Inverse Development Ltd. Jeremy Cowan Exit Metro; Jerry and Annette Murphy’s Team; Lawton’s Drugs; Lindsay Clark; London Rubber Stamp Co. Ltd.; McDonald’s Windmill Rd.; Maritime Car Wash; Mount Uniacke Self Storage; Mrs. Ruth DeVenne; New Design Heating; North East Equipment; Nova Home Heating; N.S. Apprenticeship; NSCC; Operating Engineers Training Institute; Pointe Design Group; RBC Group Advantage; Royal Flush; Scotia Speedworld; Shoppers Drug Mart; Sobeys Fall River; Staples; Councillor Steve Streatch; Subway Fall River; The Laker News – Pat Healey; The Vegetorium; and Tim Hortons Fall River.