‘I’m extremely proud’: Island Grade 12 students graduate in big numbers despite COVID-19

'I'm extremely proud': Island Grade 12 students graduate in big numbers despite COVID-19

With a few big breaths, and his cap and gown just right, Korben Silvester and his mom, Robyn, finished their walk to get to the red carpet of the graduating class of 2021 for Alberni District Secondary School.

“I’m extremely proud of him. He did it,” said Robyn Hesby, a Port Alberni resident and Mother of two.

“Somehow,” said Korben Silvester, a Grade 12 student at ADSS.

“I’m gonna cry,” said Hesby.

The teen’s goal of graduating almost fell short on multiple occasions, according to Silvester’s mother, particularly after COVID-19 dramatically cut into his final two years of high school.

“It was pretty much a drag the entire time so you know,” said Silvester.

“It was a depressing time for kids I think. They didn’t really have a lot of support. And the amount of kids that graduated it’s really good. That made it through the school year because there were times he did want to give up,” said Hesby.

It’s an experience that was lived by many families after COVID-19 caused so much anxiety and disruption for students these past 15 months.

Yet, Vancouver Island school districts are reporting high graduation rates for the class of 2021.

In the Cowichan Valley School District, 553 students successfully graduated in 2021 and in the Comox Valley School District, the graduating number was 539.

Alberni District Secondary School Principal Rob Souther told CHEK News that it’s a testament to both kids and parents that so many reached their goal.

“We don’t have our final numbers in yet, but I don’t think the grad rate was significantly impacted. We may see the story play out 2, 3 years down the road but our Grade 12’s were consistent with us for the duration of the school year,” said ADSS Principal Rob Souther.

“I was there if he was going to graduate or if he wasn’t but I told him, fill my bucket while you’re home and my bucket was to go to school,” said Hesby.

The graduating class of 2021, surviving then succeeding during a pandemic, and now about to discover the unpredictable future that lies ahead.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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