Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Last hurrah for Dunrobin Primary seniors - School-leavers go out in style in drive-through graduation

Published:Friday | June 26, 2020 | 12:20 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Rudolph Brown/Photographer
Jhevaughn Lewis holds up the Class of 2020 banner at the Dunrobin Primary School’s drive-through graduation ceremony yesterday at the school in Kingston.
Rudolph Brown/Photographer Jhevaughn Lewis holds up the Class of 2020 banner at the Dunrobin Primary School’s drive-through graduation ceremony yesterday at the school in Kingston.

Maciann McDermott was all smiles as she waited in the procession of vehicles decorated with balloons, banners and other paraphernalia for Dunrobin Primary School’s drive-through graduation on Thursday.

For the first in more than three months, she and scores of grade six students wore uniforms and journeyed to school.

Their final year of primary school has been marked by many challenges birthed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the non-traditional graduation activity brought them much joy.

“I loved my time here at Dunrobin and I’m glad I got to graduate. I got to see my friends who I haven’t seen in so many months,” the student said.

Her father Gerald McDermott shared that he was thankful the school-leavers were afforded the chance to have a farewell.

“It’s a very good idea and my daughter is enjoying it so far. It can’t be compared to a regular graduation ceremony. Some of the parents went all out with the balloons and sunroof vehicles, so you know that they are grateful for the opportunity,” the father explained.

Standing through the sunroof or perched from the windows of vehicles, students were presented with school-leaving packages as teachers, parents and well-wishers cheered them on.

Principal Noel Watt told The Gleaner that grade six students look forward to three major events every year: sitting exit examinations, attending graduation, and the grade six excursion.

“We wanted to have something to lift the children’s spirits because many of them were down due to the fact that they couldn’t sit all their exams. Having a drive-through graduation was the perfect idea because of the ring road that we have and the large car park to the back of the playing field,” the principal explained.

He said parents and students were receptive to the idea, and with less than two weeks’ notice, 94 of 140 students participated in the ceremony. A small fee of $1,000 was charged to cover the cost of corsages, boutonnières, and decor.

Brittany Campbell, another parent, described the school-leaving ceremony as a “fantastic innovation”, noting that it was also affordable.

“They thought about the kids regardless of what is going on with the pandemic and not letting the kids feel left out, and I appreciate it a whole lot. My son is a little bit nervous but he is excited because he saw his classmates this morning, and we took some pictures to cherish the memory,” said Campbell.

Jhevaughn Lewis is hopeful that he will be placed at Meadowbrook High School or Jamaica College when the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) placements are released today.

“I was looking forward to this graduation because my cousins overseas had a similar graduation. I am happy about transitioning to high school but a little sad because I didn’t get to say goodbye to all my friends.”

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com