Grade 8 graduates shortly before entering the gym for the ceremony


The student population of IHMS changes at the beginning of each new school year. As students are promoted to the next grade, a new kindergarten class is formed, and everyone else moves up one grade. Of course, students in grade 8 will eventually have to leave in order to attend another school the following September. Students that leave at the end of grade 8 are given a formal farewell in the last big event of the school year – graduation!



Graduation is always a bitter-sweet affair, and the grads usually have mixed feelings about leaving. Many have been together since attending nursery school 10 years ago (IHMS discontinued the nursery program a few years ago in favour of full time kindergarten). That means many of the grads have known each other since they were only 4 years old! When classes resume in September, the grads will all be enrolled in a new school.


Ordinarily. Mrs. Walton, the current grade 8 teacher, would celebrate this important milestone by organizing a Graduation Divine Liturgy and a Graduation Dinner and Dance. This year, however, neither of these events occurred because of the coronavirus.


Grade 8 students waiting in the front foyer before entering the gym for their pizza lunch


Instead, the grade 8’s had a simple graduation celebration on Thursday, June 25. The day consisted of four separate events:

  1. Decorating the Gym and Scavenger Hunt (9:00 – 12:00)
  2. Graduation Lunch (12:00 – 1:30)
  3. Graduation Program (1:30 – 3:00)
  4. Drive to Kildonan Park (After 3:00)


Grad Home Visits

A few days earlier, on Monday, June 22, the staff of IHMS boarded a chartered bus and visited each of the grade 8 graduates at their home. During the visit, which was only 5 to 10 minutes in length, each graduate was presented with a goody bag and an IHMS Graduate Sign. The sign was placed on the front lawn, and a quick photo was taken of the graduate and the staff of IHMS standing next to the sign.


On the morning of graduation (Thursday, June 25), the grads spent the first few hours decorating the gym. They also had some fun participating in a scavenger hunt planned by Mrs. Walton. 


Grade 8’s decorating the gym for Grad


Grade 8’s participating in a scavenger hunt


At noon, the grads enjoyed a catered lunch of pizza and salad. Although the lunch was in informal in nature, it started out with Mr. Picklyk asking everyone in attendance to stand and welcome the IHMS graduates of 2020. As IHMS staff applauded, the students began their procession from the gym doors to their reserved seats at the head table.


The graduates entering the gym for their pizza lunch


After blessing of the food by Fr. Isidore Dziadyk, OSBM, the graduates were given priority in starting the line to the pizza and salad buffet. They were followed by the rest of the guests, including Fr. Isidore Dziadyk, OSBM (Chaplain of IHMS), Sr. Jean Zemliak, SSMI (Director of IHMS), and finally the IHMS staff.



Due to government capacity restrictions, only the graduates, IHMS staff, and a few special guests were served the lunch.


The graduates eating at the head table


The formal part of the grad program began at 1:30 p.m., and once again, only the graduates, IHMS staff, and a few special guests were permitted to attend. Proud parents of the graduates were able to view the ceremony online via a live streaming website called “Zoom”.


Mrs. Pecuch was the administer of the Zoom meeting


The ceremony began with each graduate carrying a long-stemmed rose from the back of the gym to the front of the assembly. The graduates left their rose in a vase at the front.


Each graduate carried a long-stemmed rose to the vase at the front


The graduates took turns carrying a long-stemmed rose from the back of the gym to a glass vase at the front of the assembly. This is simply a way for the graduates to take their seat, and also a way to give each grad a moment of individual recognition as they move, one at a time, to the front of the assembly and then to their seat.


In order to observe proper social distancing, parents were unable to attend the graduation ceremony.


After a short prayer service, each graduate was called up one at a time to receive two important graduation mementos. First of all, they received a graduation certificate from Mr. Picklyk. They also received an IHMS graduation medallion from Sr. Jean Zemliak, SSMI, the current Director of IHMS.


Each graduate received a graduation certificate from Mr. Picklyk and a graduation medallion from Sr. Jean Zemliak, SSMI


The grad program included greetings from various members of the IHMS community, including the current Director of IHMS, Sr. Jean Zemliak, SSMI, and Mr. Jason Brennan, Chairperson of the IHMS school board.


IHMS Director, Sr. Jean Zemliak, SSMI (top 2 photos), and Chairperson of IHMS school board, Mr. Jason Brennan (bottom 2 photos)


The grad program also included greetings from Khushleen D., the student council president, and from Mr. Picklyk, principal of IHMS. Mr. Picklyk’s farewell speech was followed by a video he had prepared. The video was projected onto the gym wall and documented many of the events of the past 10 years, from sadochok to the present day. The video is one of the most anticipated parts of the graduation – it’s usually both poignant and funny at the sane time.


Student council president Khushleen D. and IHMS  principal Mr. Picklyk


The video has become a yearly graduation tradition, and guests always look forward to it. It’s funny and cute watching the graduates back when they were in kindergarten and grade 1. The graduates soon came to realize of how much they’ve changed over the years. They were also starting to realize that their time at IHMS was quickly coming to an end.


Mr. Picklyk’s video


In addition to the grade 8 class, two teachers will also not be returning in the fall. After many years of service, Mrs. Naurocki (grade 7) and Mrs. Wdowiak (grade 4) will be retiring from teaching.



Mrs. Naurocki and Mrs. Wdowiak

 Honoured After 45 Years of Service at IHMS

During the graduation ceremony, Mrs. Naurocki and Mrs. Wdowiak were honored for their many years of service to IHMS. Both teachers are retiring this year – Mrs. Naurocki after 45 years, and Mrs. Wdowiak after 39 years of dedicated service. Both teachers began their teaching careers at the same time in 1975, but Mrs. Wdowiak (who was unmarried at the time and known as Ms. A. Lymycz) took a six year leave of absence shortly afterwards to raise a family. Mrs. Naurocki and Mrs. Wdowiak are two of the most experienced and beloved teachers to ever work at IHMS, and over the past 45 years, they’ve influenced the lives of thousands of students. They will be greatly missed!


The graduation program concluded with a speech by Mrs. Walton, the current grade 8 teacher. Mrs. Walton gave a poignant and very touching farewell speech to her class. It should be noted that Mrs. Walton almost single-handedly organized the IHMS 2020 graduation. She was forced to modify many of the school’s long standing graduation traditions and to improvise new ideas to comply with the restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Grade 8 teacher. Mrs. Walton


At the conclusion of the formal program (around 3:00 p.m.), the graduates were free to leave with their parents. The parents drove in a parade of cars to Kildonan Park for the opportunity to take grad photos against the backdrop of the park.


Immediately after the graduation ceremony, the grade 8 grads posed for one las group photo in the gym with their teacher, Mrs. Walton. Click here to view in larger format.


In the end, everything worked as planned, and the graduates enjoyed a beautiful day with memories that should last a lifetime.