Graduation season has almost arrived and along with plans to festoon halls and gymnasiums with celebratory fare, a few less traditional events are being plotted.
Fake firearms notably brought grad kidnappings to the attention of police and the community at large last month, but school officials say it’s just the tip of the iceberg in a time of year often fraught with problems.
“In the end, we’ve talked to our kids about how proud we are of them for doing a good job and completing high school,” said Hugh Gloster, superintendent of the Central Okanagan school district.
“We want them to celebrate, but when I was a principal locally I would say ‘let’s not spend more time celebrating graduation than working toward it.'”
He also wants them to celebrate in a secure environment. It’s a tough message to have heard, however, when there are so many options to party unsafely.
“We encourage parents to be talking with their students to identify alternatives to the bush party approach of celebration, because nothing good comes of them,” said Gloster.
“From personal injury to death to public embarrassment, or the embarrassing stories… a single event can come back to haunt people for many years.”
There’s also been a concerning trend of multi school grad trips organized by private travel companies, said Gloster.
“The level of supervision concerns us,” he said. “Parents call us thinking it’s a fun, chaperoned trip, but it’s not.”
Those trips have brought busloads of teens to the party landscapes of Mexico, which raises warning flags for obvious reasons.
While risks continue to mar graduation celebrations, Gloster said the silver lining is that student behaviour has evolved.
“When I think back to decades ago, there were fatalities every grad season. It wasn’t uncommon to have two to three fatalities every grad,” he said. “I’m glad we’ve moved beyond that. Kids are more responsible.”
The school district only officially sanctions three events in terms of the celebration of graduation—the grad dinner and dance, or prom, as well as convocation itself.
Anything else students are going to is worth a double-checking call from parents.