Sarah Matthews and Amrit Hundal, friends since kindergarten, are hosting the virtual graduation ceremony for Alberni District Secondary School’s 2020 grad class. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Lifelong friends will MC virtual graduation ceremony for ADSS

Port Alberni’s Amrit Hundal and Sarah Matthews represent Class of 2020

Amrit Hundal and Sarah Matthews have been best friends since kindergarten. On July 3, they’ll be taking the next step in their education together as co-hosts of the Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) virtual graduation ceremony.

With the COVID-19 pandemic restricting any large gatherings, ADSS will be holding a virtual, socially-distanced graduation ceremony that will air on Shaw TV on July 3 at 7 p.m.

Filming for the virtual ceremony took place over the first three weeks of June, with grads visiting the ADSS Theatre one at a time—accompanied by family and friends—to receive their diplomas.

Hundal and Matthews, who were selected as the masters of ceremonies for the 2020 grad class, were able to film their portion of the ceremony on June 10.

Hundal and Matthews met in kindergarten when they were just four years old and have been best friends ever since. Co-hosting their graduation ceremony together was something they “always wanted to do,” said Matthews.

“We definitely applied expecting that we would be [graduating] at the multiplex, with hundreds of people and our families watching us,” said Matthews.

The virtual grad ceremony is “less nerve-wracking,” Hundal admitted.

Both young women have been involved in a number of activities throughout the years at ADSS, including school sports, French immersion and the leadership class, where they helped to organize the school’s first Winter Formal since 2012.

“No grad class since 2012 has had the chance to experience a school dance outside of prom,” explained Hundal.

“There were about 500 people who bought tickets,” added Matthews. “It was really well-attended.”

Both grads were also involved in this year’s Totem 65 basketball tournament, as organizers and as members of the cheerleading team. Hundal was also one of the record 11 Totem Spirit candidates.

READ MORE: Students get into the Totem basketball spirit in record numbers

READ MORE: Totem 65 biggest event yet, ADSS organizers say

“Totem was really special this year,” Hundal said. “I think it was the best turnout we’ve had so far.”

But the 2019-2020 year was also difficult for a number of reasons. Students departed for spring break on March 13, but most of them didn’t end up returning to school as the provincial government suspended all in-class instruction just a few days later.

While schools did re-open on June 1, many students elected to continue with online learning, instead.

“It was hard to adapt for many people,” Matthews admitted.

“As weird as it seems for 2020, not everybody has a computer,” Hundal added. “Which made [home learning] a lot more difficult for some people.”

As masters of ceremonies, Hundal and Matthews will be introducing each of the ceremony’s guest speakers and sharing some of their memories from the unusual school year. They will also be making sure to thank all the staff and volunteers at ADSS who helped to arrange this year’s virtual ceremony.

“There’s so much extra work they had to do to change everything for us,” said Hundal.

“What they did for the grad class is really special,” said Matthews. “They’ve really gone out of their way. Obviously, it looks different than what we expected.”

“But we get that chance to walk the stage, which we weren’t expecting,” Hundal added.

After graduation, both Hundal and Matthews are planning to spend a year in Port Alberni, taking courses at North Island College before moving on to another post-secondary institution.

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