MONTREAL -- Ecole secondaire Antoine de Saint-Exupery graduating students returned to their school this week to pick up their diplomas. 

They, like all students in the region, were stuck at home trying to get through their exams, as graduation approached.

“There’s no computer. There’s no telephone. There are students that have to go close to the park in order to get WIFI and be able to get to you, so this the kind of struggle,” said English teacher Linda Blouin.

Added to the struggle is the fact that many of the students also have full-time jobs to get by, so teachers are handing out scholarships for perseverance.

The hope is to help them through the first year of CEGEP.

“This money will give them the opportunity to spend more time on their studies, therefore get better grades, therefore maybe getting another scholarship and become an A-student,” said Blouin. “Number one, it means a chance to pay for school, so work less in order to get better grades.”

Sarah Kellal is one such student, who said without the school staff, she wouldn’t be graduating this year.

“It makes me very happy,” she said.

Pulling off the ceremony amid the pandemic has been no small feat, but the staff says it was the students who inspired them.

“I always tell them that they’re the ones that are going to make the change in the world,” said Blouin. “We are inspired by them to be our best. They are examples of resilience every day, and so it makes you reflect on your own life.”

“I think this ceremony is really important to them,” said principal Genevieve Dandurand.