It is a massive day for students across Portage la Prairie as they put on their cap and gowns and receive their High School Diplomas.

Lawrence McKenzie, the principal at Portage Collegiate Institute, shares that today's (June 29th) graduation ceremony is special to him for multiple reasons.

He explains that there was a fair amount of fear around Christmas time regarding the pandemic and where society would be in when June.

"Things weren't going as well as everybody hoped with COVID-19," says McKenzie. "Grads were worried that they were going to be like some of the other grad classes the past two years, where a lot of their activities were curtailed. So, after spring break, when it was announced that restrictions were being removed, there was a huge weight lifted off of the shoulders of our grads. So, we're just excited to be able to hold the grad ceremony where the public can come and we can get lots of people celebrating the accomplishments of this group of students."

McKenzie notes that this graduation is unique for him.

"I joined the PCI staff four years ago when these students joined PCI in Grade 9. So, I was their vice-principal for grade nine. I followed them up into grade 10, up to grade 11, and then this year, I was the school's principal. Now I get to be up on the stage with them, give them their diploma, shake their hand, and wish them all the best."

McKenzie adds that it was neat to watch these students grow and mature over the past four years, and he couldn't be happier to be the one on stage with them this year to see them transition to their next level of life.

Stride Place will be the scene of 209 students accepting diplomas from PCI this afternoon.