The 6th year students of St Mary’s Secondary School in Ballina graduated on Tuesday evening, May 26 last in a graduation ceremony like no other.
The Covid-19 lockdown means the students have not collectively come together since last March but the staff of the school were determined that the conclusion of the girls’ six years of bonding through education would not go unmarked.
School principal Mr Robert O’Reilly spearheaded the plans to facilitate a virtual graduation for the students, using the school’s Teams software and the ceremony was streamed live to the girls and their families two evenings ago.
The emotionally-charged event featured a mixture of live and pre-recorded readings, prayers, reflection and song from students, staff and guests and a final roll call of the 6th year class.
The school even managed to realise a class photograph by collating individual pictures that the students took of themselves in their caps and gowns.
In true St Mary’s tradition, the evening concluded with a moving musical piece – a rendition of the much-loved Andrea Bocelli classic “Time to Say Goodbye” (see video below).
Music teacher Regina Deacy explained that the girls had been rehearsing the piece for the practical section of their Leaving Certificate music exam which didn’t proceed as a result of the closure of schools due to Covid-19.
“I thought, as their music teacher, that it would be nice for them to sing it together as a choir and for their friends at this online graduation ceremony one last time, even if it was virtually.
“In the last two weeks, the 6th year music students recorded their individual parts at home and their videos were engineered and compiled by another Leaving Cert student, James Hackett from St Muredach’s College.”
The song is the second virtual performance to be broadcast by the choir of St Mary’s during lockdown and, like their debut piece – a cover of Toto’s “Africa” – “Time to Say Goodbye” also looks set to go viral.
The school has been inundated with reaction to Tuesday’s graduation ceremony with parents and students describing it as an overwhelming experience of mixed emotions like joy, sadness and pride.
Watch the rendition of “Time to Say Goodbye” below: