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Vistabella Presbyterian School principal Curtis Dinial presents Standard Five student Shania Basswah with her certificate after the school’s virtual graduation yesterday.

RADHICA DE SILVA

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After going through three weeks of quarantine and the rigours of online classes, 56 Secondary Entrance Examination students from the Vistabella Presbyterian Primary school graduated virtually yesterday.

As a reward for their diligence, each of them got a token, flowers and a gift card.

Following an online graduation ceremony, the students went one by one to the school where they greeted their Standard Five teacher Susan Jaggernauth and acting principal Marsha Sewdass.

In anticipation of their secondary school journey, Sewdass told the pupils that although COVID-19 had changed many aspects of the world, the basic principles of good manners, honesty and respect remained the same.

After the virtual graduation, the students and their parents were asked to go to the school at specific times to collect their tokens.

Back in August, the entire class was placed in quarantine after a student tested positive for COVID-19.

When SEA exams rolled around on August 20, six of them were still in quarantine and a supplemental examination was arranged for them.

Speaking to Guardian Media afterward, principal Sewdass said it was commendable that each child had persevered to the end.

“It was a very challenging time for the students. When one of our students contracted COVID-19, we went through a very trying time. But the Standard Five students and their teacher persevered and we expect excellent results next week,” Sewdass said.

The SEA results are due to be released on Thursday.

Sewdass noted that sponsors including Keith Khan’s Bookstores and General Earth Movers, as well as several others, organised gift vouchers, snack boxes and trophies for the students.

Most outstanding pupil Chael Coryatt smiled as her mother Ri-Ann hugged her.

“I am so elated. Words cannot express how I feel. It’s been a very challenging year and I am very proud of her,” Ri-Ann told Guardian Media.

“When online classes started she was on time and she never gave up. It was challenging. We were waiting and hoping this day will come. It’s not easy to support your children when they are burnt out but we supported her right through.”

Ri-Ann noted that dealing with the COVID-19 experience was also traumatic.

Jaggernauth commended the students for taking up the challenge of online classes.

“The children worked well. I have to commend them for keeping up the pace,” Jaggernauth said.

Vistabella Presbyterian has been recognised as one of the top denominational schools but since 2015, it had been plagued with a myriad of problems, including a leaking sewer which affected classes for more than a term. By 2017, parents had staged sporadic protests because of the sewer.

There were plans to house SEA students at the Vistabella Church and this current crop of SEA students suffered intermittent disruptions to their classes because of water problems.