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Honouring our extraordinary grads

Dear grads,
 
Handshakes and hugs are not in the cards for you this year, but we are reaching out by bus, on social media, and even over the big screen to say, "congratulations!"
 
Graduating from St. Andrew's College is a momentous occasion, whether you attended for one year or, in some cases, eight. During this time, all 120 of you have forged bonds, made mistakes, excelled, and learned a lot, academically, ethically, and morally.
 
Graduation is a really big deal! We don't want you to remember it with "should haves" and "would haves" and regrets. Yes, you should have enjoyed a magical grad formal. You should have walked proudly beside your brothers to accept your Old Boy tie. The comradery is missing, and the in-person ceremony isn't going to happen…yet.
 
But this is St. Andrew's College, and we are giving you the best send-off possible, brought to you through the collective imagination and ingenuity of all the faculty and staff as well as your fellow students.
 
Let's start with the movie: Check out this trailer for the feature film with a cast of hundreds, including moms and dads, beloved teachers, and support staff. This film comes from the heart of Head of Drama and Film, William Scoular, who intends to send you off in movie-star style when it premiers on Prize Day, June 19.
 
"St. Andrew's College is renowned for putting on exceptional Prize Days for its graduating class. This is one of life's big milestones, and all of us at the School want to make sure we're there for this extraordinary group of grads at the finish line – even if the finish line is online," Mr. Scoular said.
 
"If we can't deliver a traditional ceremony this year, then the goal is to produce a momentous online version that, from invitation to final broadcast, will be the most inventive, personalized, meaningful, and memorable Prize Day in SAC history."
 
Even before the trailer was released, parents had rave reviews on how the process brought families of graduating students together, virtually, to be part of the "big picture."
 
"Now I can see why my son had so much fun in your class," wrote Sherry Bar, mom of Jack Bar '20, in a message to Mr. Scoular. "If someone would have suggested that dressing up and being part of a Zoom call with a bunch of other Grade 12 parents would be an enjoyable experience, I wouldn't have believed it. Thank you for this, for your vision, and for your tireless efforts in making this graduation a memorable event for these boys. We can't wait to see the finished product."
 
Suzanne and Bryan Ashby, parents of Ethan Ashby '20, had a similar message for the film's producer: "Thank you for all the work you are doing to create this memorable movie for the boys of SAC. As a parent of a graduating student, words cannot express how much we appreciate your dedication and commitment to the Class of 2020."
Leading up to Prize Day, boys received their coveted Old Boy tie by special delivery, courtesy of our Advancement Office in an endeavour dubbed the Grad Bus Tour. If you live in Southern Ontario, your home was one of the stops made to drop off a package containing a lawn sign to display your accomplishment as a Grade 12 graduate of St. Andrew's College, your tie, and silver cufflinks with the SAC logo, a gift from the Parents Guild.
 
"Thank you so, so much for your efforts for the Class of 2020. Matthew was so happy today...for the entire day! It was wonderful to see his face when he saw the bus parked in front of our house," said Sheri Deo, mother of Matthew Deo '20 on Wednesday, June 3, the first delivery day for Upper School grads.
 
"I really appreciate the thought and planning that went into these home deliveries and the caring individuals that you are. You took a bad situation for the grads and turned it into a wonderful memory for them. I just wanted to express my genuine appreciation for your thoughtfulness!"
 
Out-of-province and international students will receive their package via mail.
 
This isn't the first time students have received deliveries to their homes. Remember when Andy, our Scottish mascot, went for a walk through Aurora to visit the homes of local Prefects? He dropped off gifts (keeping socially distant, of course!) that would typically be handed out at the annual Prefect barbecue. (The person wearing the mascot costume was none other than Head of School, Kevin McHenry.)
 
"Our Prefects deserve a big thank you for all the incredible work they have done in leading our student body. Through COVID-19, they have shown us what it means to adapt and be resilient in the face of unparalleled change. From launching Conversations in Quarantine to addressing school-wide challenges, they have adapted their leadership style to fit our current situation. I couldn't be prouder of them," stated Mr. McHenry.
 
The congratulations have also come from other students. The Pipes & Drums Corps put together a video performance of Highland Laddie to thank grads for their contributions to the program. Highland Laddie is a fitting finale, as it is the Corps' Regimental March.
 
Incoming Cadet Commanding Officer, Braeden Donnelly, has this to say to Grade 12 students: "On behalf of the Cadet Corps, the Prefects, and the entire Andrean community, I'd like the thank the graduating Class of 2020 and to wish them the best of luck in the best year. Also, to extend an invitation to come back and share their experiences and stories with us."
 
St. Andrew's Hockey program offered a video tribute to the Class of 2020 through its Instagram page (sachockey1988) and Twitter (@sachockey). The SAC Football program also offered their grads a First Football tribute via Instagram.
 
Let's not forget our Middle School graduates, who will be receiving their Upper School ties along with some other goodies as the Grad Bus Tour continues. The Parents Guild gift is a red custom ball cap for the 88 members of the Class of 2024, and, of course, a lawn sign for them to proudly display.
 
"While it saddens us is to not be able to honour them in traditional SAC fashion, we would not let this milestone pass us by without proper recognition. Honouring our grads by sharing end-of-journey stories, reflecting on their early Andrean days, and celebrating their many mission achievements is a priority as we plan end-of-year festivities," said Sabrina D'Angelo, Director of the Middle School.
 
Celebrating the Class of 2024 during the pandemic has forced SAC to not only pivot, but come up with awesome ideas to mark the occasion.
 
"We are excited to be travelling the Greater Toronto Area in nothing other than the big, red SAC bus to visit each graduate and offer our congratulations on a Middle School experience well-lived. Of course, we will shower them with gifts and top off the visit with a keepsake of Andy, our school mascot," Mrs. D'Angelo said.
 
The Middle School virtual Prize Day ceremony is set for June 18.

Story by Julie Caspersen
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St. Andrew's College
15800 Yonge Street, Aurora, ON L4G 3H7 Canada
Tel: 905-727-3178