When Jacqueline Lutz was pregnant with her daughter, Nayla MacCorkindale, she remembers thinking how cool it would be that her eldest was going to be graduating high school in the year 2020.
Lutz looked forward to the celebrations Nayla would have, and thought of all the fantastic memories her daughter would cherish from that special ocassion. Afterall, that was her mom’s experience, and Lutz is still close with several of her high school friends. So, she predicted the same for Nayla and her three closest friends.
Well, never would Lutz have been able to predict the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and how that would impact on her daughter’s graduation – or the grad ceremonies of all Grade 12s in 2020.
The girls learned about a month ago that there would be no prom and no in-person graduation ceremonies. However, Samuel Robertson Technical Secondary – Nayla’s school – will be hosting a virtual ceremony, with the kids joining the online festivities wearing a cap and gown.
“It’s not fair,” her mom said.
So, to give Nayla and her friends a keepsake they’d be anxious to hold on to for years to come, Lutz decided to have custom sweatshirts made up.
They say Class of 2020, with the “0”s represented by rolls of toilet paper. And underneath, it says “The year sh.. got real.”
Each of the girls was given one of the shirt.
“They just loved them, and were thanking us for doing this for them,” Lutz recalled.
Since Nayla’s father is immune compromised and the family is adamant about social distancing, they had a picture of the foursome taken in Lutz’s front yard, arms outstretched (indicating adequate physical distance, but also to give a clearer view of the shirts).
Nayla, Rylee Cumarasamy, Katrina Rubenuik, and Jordan Rodgerson have been playing softball together for the past six years, and while MacCorkindale attends Samuel Robertson and the other three are graduating from Thomas Haney Secondary, they’ve been besties for all those years.
Lutz describes the girls as troopers through all the virus upheaval, and said they’ve seemed relatively unfazed by the lack of graduation festivities.
But Mom predicts the tears will flow next year, when Nayla’s younger brother, Davin, graduates. It’s expected he will have the full graduation experience, and Nayla will see and long for all that she missed.
“Thank God they don’t know what they’re missing,” Mom said, recalling how her daughter picked up her grad gown the last day the store was open, and Nayla queried if she’d ever have a chance to wear the $1,000 dress.
“I don’t know, maybe this is harder for the parents. The girls are actually dealing with it so well,” Lutz added.
“I find it heartbreaking, but that’s the reality of it.”
In the coming weeks, the foursome will be doing a mini-graduation party, just for them. Again, it will be held at Lutz’s Whonnock home, where they had the photo shoot with the sweatshirts, and the girls and their family will have professional photos taken in the garden wearing their grad gowns.
“We’re just trying to make this start of summer as special as we can,” Lutz said, still laughing at the shirts and how they encapsulate how COVID has impacted everyone so much – and in so many different ways.
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