Even though there will not be the traditional graduation ceremony and festivities this year, the grad class at Desert Sands Community School will still be celebrating, and hopes that residents of Ashcroft and Cache Creek will come out and cheer them on at two events on June 11.
At 6 p.m. that night, the grads — dressed in their finery — will be lined up along the sidewalk at the Heritage Park on Railway Avenue. Residents are encouraged to drive past to wave hello, honk, and cheer the grads as they mark a milestone on their journey.
If you can’t make it to the Heritage Park, then the grads will come to you! At approximately 6:30 p.m. on June 11, the grads will begin a tour of Ashcroft and then Cache Creek.
The vehicles will go through downtown Ashcroft (along Railway, Bancroft, 3rd Street, and 6th Street), then travel to the Mesa (Mesa Vista Drive and Cliff Crescent) before heading to North Ashcroft (Tingley, Brunswick, Birch, Government, Elm, Battel, and Pine).
From there the vehicles will head to Cache Creek, arriving at approximately 7:30 p.m. The grads will stand along Quartz Road for a drive-by (please wait in your vehicles if you get there before the grads), then at 8 p.m. travel through town along Stage Road, Cumming Blvd., Woodburn Drive and Court, Stage, Stanley Parke Drive, Semlin, McLean, Sunvalley Road, Parke, and Quartz.
Motorists doing the drive-by at the Heritage Park (Ashcroft) or Quartz Road (Cache Creek) are asked to stay in their cars, and to make way for other traffic on the road.
Juanita Little — whose daughter Rhea is graduating this year — is organizing the drive-by and parade, and says that changing COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult to plan anything for this year’s grad. Last year’s ceremonies and celebrations were also cancelled, but the grads held a drive-by and then a parade.
“Back in the fall we saw what the restrictions were at that point, but they kept changing, so right from the get-go we figured this is what we’d have. The grads didn’t want a banquet, because it’s expensive, and there were limited fundraising opportunities.”
The ceremony on June 10 will be limited to family, with each grad and their family arriving at the school at a specified time for the student to receive their certificate. People who would normally have spoken at the grad ceremony, or presented scholarships or bursaries, will instead record a short video, which will be streamed for the grads.
“COVID grad ceremony regulations mean we’re limited as to what we can do,” says Little. Even getting traditional grad photographs was a challenge, and Little gives a huge thank you to Gary Winslow for taking pictures of this year’s graduating students
Despite knowing that this year’s grad experience would not be the usual one, she says the students are disappointed. “It’s still not what it used to be.”
Even though there would not be a grad banquet or dance, however, the students still went ahead and got their grad outfits.
“You have to buy a dress in October; you can’t just wait. Not knowing what was going to happen, they thought they’d get their outfits just in case. It’s a piece of tradition, and the’re trying to make it a bit normal.”
The drive-by and parade might become an ongoing part of that normal, even when traditional grad celebrations return.
“Last year the kids had fun, and this year’s class wanted to do it again,” says Little.
“It would be neat to carry on with it even after COVID. People are outside with signs and bells and horns, and it generates excitement.”