Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) valedictorian Anneke Korver will be representing a graduating class that has seen the school year interrupted by a worldwide pandemic.
Korver was selected to deliver a farewell speech on behalf of her graduating class at this year’s ADSS graduation ceremony. But the 2020 graduation will look a little different compared to previous years. Graduates spent the first three weeks of June filming a socially-distanced, virtual graduation ceremony that will air on Shaw TV on Friday, July 3, starting at 7 p.m. Korver has already filmed her valedictorian speech, although the audience was much smaller than she originally expected.
“It went really well,” she said, although she added that it was “odd” to compare it to previous graduation ceremonies. The ADSS grad usually takes place at the Alberni Valley Multiplex, with hundreds of people in the audience.
“It’s not what I expected when I thought about running,” said Korver. “I was able to have some family and friends come watch. It was really well-organized,” she added. “[The staff and volunteers] did a really good job.”
In her speech Korver will discuss the unusual school year that her graduating class faced. When ADSS students departed for spring break on March 13, most of them didn’t end up returning to school, as the provincial government suspended all in-class instruction just a few days later.
Most schools within School District 70 did re-open on June 1, but many students elected to continue with online learning, instead.
“It’s been difficult,” said Korver. “I don’t think there’s any high school student enjoying school now that we can’t see anybody. It’s hard to stay motivated sometimes.”
But although the year has been a difficult one, Korver wants her speech to focus on her classmates’ achievements.
“I’ll be talking about the changes our year has had, but that’s not the most important thing,” she said. “The grad ceremony should be the most important thing.”
Throughout her high school years, Korver was involved in both concert and jazz bands, took “a fair bit of academic classes” and played on the Alberni Athletics soccer team.
One of her favourite memories is of a Grade 11 band trip to the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho, but she also has good memories of spending lunch hours with her friends.
“We had our spot we sat in every day,” she said. “Just little stuff like that is nice, as well.”
Korver still isn’t sure where she will be this fall. She has been accepted to the University of Calgary, where she will be working to earn her Bachelor of Science. The university is tentatively planning a return to campus learning, but the COVID-19 pandemic makes things uncertain.
“I don’t know yet if classes will be held there in person or just online,” said Korver.