They were just weeks away from finishing BCIT’s Security Systems Technician (SST) program when the COVID-19 crisis began to escalate in BC. Following the Provincial Health Officer’s recommendation to practice physical distancing to prevent the spread of the virus, SST instructors quickly transitioned in-person classes to online training. The students’ upcoming celebration to mark the completion of their program had to be cancelled, too. Or did it?
“I know from previous experience that having some form of celebration is important to the students and instructors,” says Mike Zecchel, Security Systems Technician instructor. “So we decided to host BCIT’s first-ever online unofficial ‘graduation’.”
Together with instructor Peter Burleigh, Mike set up the virtual celebration for 10 graduating SST students on March 27. Using Zoom, an online conferencing platform, students connected via their laptops, desktop computers, or smartphones.
“We started with some inspirational words for the class, pointing out that this was the first celebration of its kind,” Mike explains. “Each student was recognized by name and with a round of applause, using the applause feature on Zoom as well as actual applause on-screen.”
Student Miranda Seaboyer was recognized by the instructors for her academic and practical excellence. She also completed her courses with an average mark of 95 percent and demonstrated above-average practical, teamwork, and leadership skills.
The unconventional completion-of-program celebration concluded with an online game of SKRIBBL.io (an multiplayer drawing and guessing game) which lasted more than an hour.
Mike says the online training, which continues for current students who are still completing the program, has offered some unexpected levity during these challenging times.
“Now, I’m meeting their pets, their parents, their children, etc.,” he says. “One day, we had ‘funny hat day’ and, as silly as it sounds, they really got into it. I guess, during these stressful times, every little bit of silliness helps.”