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With campuses being shut in response to the pandemic, graduation for high-school seniors in UAE schools will look very different this year. However, schools are determined to make this as special for students and their families as they can, despite the current restrictions on gathering.

“This year, no limousines are dropping graduands at the venue, no lavish ceremonies are taking place in school auditoriums or hotel ballrooms, and we cannot have graduating class photos in front of the school prior to the ceremony – all of which would have traditionally taken place in a pre-Covid-19 world,” says David Fitzgerald, Vice-President, Cluster Lead, GEMS Education. “So, yes, the format is different this year, but no less significant or celebratory.

“A number of GEMS Education schools have already held their graduation celebrations, and this year they did things a little differently, relying on technology to bring graduands together. But what remained a constant was the fact that this was a student-designed event that captured the essence of what graduation actually means: an acknowledgment of what has been achieved, combined with the promise of what is to come.

Personalised delivery of diplomas

American School of Dubai (ASD) is also trying its best to ensure that students don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime moment. “We have thought creatively and will ensure what we are doing is legal under the health and safety guidelines of Dubai and the UAE,” says Dr Paul Richards, Superintendent, ASD.

“ASD is hosting a virtual graduation ceremony tomorrow. On Friday and Saturday, high-school teachers and administrators will personally deliver diplomas and yearbooks to each graduate’s home. We believe this personalised delivery from a cherished teacher will be a special way for students to say goodbye and finish their time at ASD.”

American Community School of Abu Dhabi (ACS) has taken the initiative to produce a film for its 2020 graduation ceremony. The 93 graduating seniors of the school will be featured in the film that will premiere at tonight’s ceremony, which will be a high-quality, pre-recorded virtual event for the families and parents of the graduates. Using technology, every graduating senior will receive their diploma from their parents.

“So much more could be said about the ACS graduating class of 2020. But the words that best describe them are resilient and compassionate,” says Amy Greene, High School Principal, in her pre-recorded speech in tonight’s graduation ceremony. “Students, it is your empathy and genuine support for others that is the hope that our world needs.”