Grad tradition gets a failing grade

RCMP diverted party plans several times in Vernon and surrounding area

Some senior students had a hard time enjoying a back-to-school tradition Monday evening.

To initiate their graduation year, some Grade 12 students annually plan a bush party the night before the first day of school.

But RCMP diverted those plans several times — meeting youth at various party spots with road blocks and orders to leave.

“I heard kids saying, ‘every time we turned a corner the cops were there,’” said Doug Rogers, substance abuse prevention counsellor for the Vernon School District.

“The police did a really good job of keeping our kids safe.”

The school district does not condone the student-organized events, therefore reminders were issued recently that anyone coming to school following these events would be sent home.

“Letters were emailed home to all the parents that these are unsanctioned school events,” said Rogers, who himself has a daughter in Grade 12. “The kids will be drinking and drugging and out in the bush.”

While some parents maintain that these traditions are OK for their kids to partake in, Rogers is pleased to see that more parents are helping to change the face of dangerous traditions.

“We’re just trying to re-culture things away from the party scene,” said Rogers, whose own daughter went to an alternative party with some friends and parents. “Let’s have fun without the drugs and alcohol.”

Starting the school year off right, without any deaths or major incidents, is also important.

“They might feel it’s a tradition and so on, but we’re not talking about the same landscape.”

With fentanyl and other deadly drugs out there, there is added pressure to keep youth safe.