Polytechnic graduation: Not the usual ceremony but it still goes with a bang

Event scrapped due to social distancing but students find creative ways to celebrate

Polytechnic students have come up with creative ways of celebrating their graduation. PHOTOS: ETHAN ONG, ST FILE, CHONG JUN LIANG, SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

About 26,000 polytechnic graduates may leave school this year without the pride and splendour of a graduation ceremony, but they will be an unforgettable cohort.

Graduating amid a global Covid-19 pandemic, the youth - unlike their predecessors - will have to give up on marking the milestone with ceremonial moments on stage next month.

Singapore's social distancing measures required the events to be cancelled. Instead, the diplomas, certificates and transcripts will be delivered by mail to the graduating students.

Despite the initial disappointment, the students have come up with creative ways of celebrating the occasion, from building their own graduation stage on Minecraft to holding virtual ceremonies with their friends.

Some institutions, such as Temasek Polytechnic (TP) and Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP), released graduation-themed "stickers" for students to use on social media platforms like Instagram.

TP communications and media management graduate Toh E-Vyn and her group of friends used a set of digital templates of campus landmarks the polytechnic released as the background for a "graduation ceremony" on Zoom.

"We prepared and dressed up for it, and had a lot of fun in our own rooms," said the 23-year-old.

"We also made Instagram filters and wore our graduation outfits and posted the pictures and videos online," she added.

"We were quite disappointed at first, but there are creative ways to celebrate even without the physical ceremonies. It's making the best out of this situation."

NP is also celebrating graduation online for the first time. Besides a virtual gift pack with digital backdrops, stickers and filters for graduates, NP will also hold a crowd-sourcing photo contest online to encourage them to share memorable moments from school.

A video tribute from NP lecturers will also be shown on May 7 to the graduates.

NP director of academic affairs Nancy Tan said: "Even as we continue to do our part to stay safe by being at home during these challenging times, we hope to engage our graduates in a virtual celebration that will mark this defining moment of their lives in a fun yet meaningful way."

Social media is also familiar ground for most graduates, who use it to capture their own memories of polytechnic life, she said.

"This virtual graduation will be one of the very special memories they will take with them."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2020, with the headline Polytechnic graduation: Not the usual ceremony but it still goes with a bang. Subscribe