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North Vancouver School District
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Jul 20
Sutherland Staff Rise Up to Give Grads a Musical Send Off
Mark Fortin_resized.JPG
Sutherland Secondary teacher Mark Fortin works with students during filming production

By Lisa Dalla Vecchia, NVSD Communications

It has become a Sutherland Secondary School tradition to have teacher Mark Fortin perform for graduating students. Whether at the winter formal, graduation banquet or grad ceremony, students have come to love to hear his musical performances and tributes.

Recognizing this grad year would be unlike any other, Mark and fellow teacher Alexa Smyth knew they had to do something as unique as the year itself to keep the tradition going. They decided they would bring together elements of music, digital media and the Sutherland community to wish their grads well.

The project began with Mark recording “Rise Up,” originally performed by Andra Day, in his home studio. It was a real family affair--while he sang and played guitar, his wife played cello, and his children were the back-up singers.

It also became a staff affair. For the first time, all staff were invited to participate in the initiative, gathering the week prior to the June 1st school restart to record the video portion.

Staff were extremely excited to participate. They wrote messages for their students, which were used during filming and later placed throughout the school for all to see.

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Students were also involved in the initiative. Alexa invited five Sutherland grad students--who were excited, and somewhat nervous--to use their digital media skills to support the filming and editing portion of the production. One student secured a permit to use his own drone for a portion of the filming. Another student, Hunter Gladstone, gave the Indigenous greeting and welcome address in his traditional language.

Due to COVID-19, and the need to respect the guidelines around physical distancing and the order to not gather in groups of more than 50 people, there was little opportunity to get everyone together to practice. In fact, the entire heartwarming production was recorded in a little over 30 minutes.

To view the video of Rise Up, please click here.

To view the Sutherland grad highlight video, click here.



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