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Teacher built a portable stage and drove to every student's home to host their graduation ceremony

The school had initally planned to deliver the diplomas to students at their home but the PE teacher had an idea.

Teacher built a portable stage and drove to every student's home to host their graduation ceremony
Image source: TikTok/@leashorlando

A teacher in Canada built a portable stage all by himself so his high school students could walk the stage to collect their diplomas and pose for a picture. Ray Gowlett, the physical education teacher at The Central Algoma Secondary School (CASS) drove almost 250 miles over the weekend so 72 students could walk the stage and collect their diplomas in front of their families. High school seniors have had a tough year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Apart from having to sit at home and attend classes virtually, they also missed major activities throughout the year, including prom and sporting events. 

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The Canadian school was not able to hold the graduation ceremony as usual because of the pandemic but Ray Gowlett, the health and physical education teacher at the school, made a portable stage so seniors wouldn't miss out on walking the stage to collect their diplomas. Gowlett built the stage in six hours and drove to 72 homes over the weekend so the students enjoy their graduation walk in front of their families. "We started Saturday at 8 a.m, and we finished Saturday at 8 p.m.," said Gowlett, reported Insider. "And then we started again Sunday morning. Our first delivery was at 9:00 a.m, and the last one was finished at 7:30 p.m. We traveled a total of 400 kilometers." Gowlett attended CASS himself years ago and has been teaching at the school for more than 21 years now.

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One of the students posted a TikTok video showing the portable stage decorated with flowers in front of the school's logo. The school had initially planned to personally deliver diplomas to the homes of the students but Gowlett's daughter, who is also graduating, asked if he could hand it to her on an outdoor stage in their community. She wanted to walks across the stage and get a graduation picture. "I asked, is it important to walk across the stage? And she said, yes, we really want to walk across the stage and get a picture with our diploma," said Gowlett, recalling the conversation with his daughter. 

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"I said no problem. I can do that. Do you think many more people would want to do that? She said everybody would want to do that," said Gowlett. That's when he decided to do something about it so every student could have the same experience. "I just started thinking, well, how can I get a stage to every student's house? And then the idea just occurred to me to build a mobile stage and bring a teacher to each person's house," said Gowlett. 

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He pitched the idea for a portable stage to the grad committee and everyone loved it. Gowlett got the necessary materials with help from local businesses in the community and a trailer to create the portable stage. Students were told to limit the number of people at the 'graduation ceremony' to 10 to adhere to the Coronavirus guidelines. Students also used a single-use gown for their pictures. "This was a full school staff effort. I was lucky enough to have the idea to build the stage, but it absolutely would not have worked without the 20 people behind the scenes doing all the paperwork and coordinating the setup and the takedown," said Gowlett. He also added that what he did for the students of the graduating class was in line with what the school has always represented. "The school has such a long, rich history of going above and beyond for students that it just totally wasn't out of character for all of the staff to do what they did," he added. 

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Ray Gowlett/Twitter

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