School District 20 – Grad plans still in place

Graduation ceremonies at Greater Trail’s secondary schools are still expected to pass in the face of the B.C. Teachers Federation ruling

Graduation ceremonies at Greater Trail’s two secondary schools are still expected to pass in the face of a recent B.C. Teachers Federation ruling asking teachers to refrain from volunteer activities.

For nearly 200 Grade 12 students preparing to graduate from J.L Crowe and Rossland secondary schools, the current school term has been fraught with uncertainty, with teacher job action now targeting volunteer activities such as school sports and graduation ceremonies.

But the system won’t fail its students.

“It is business as usual,” said Rossland Secondary School principal Terry McDonnell about the prospect of graduation ceremonies taking place.

McDonnell anticipated the 43 Grade 12 students at RSS will be driving down Columbia Avenue on June 8, taking their graduation photos in front of the school and then promenading through to the grand march later that day.

He said there hasn’t been any contact with the powers that be in the building otherwise regarding graduation ceremonies, so the ceremony will go ahead.

Most of the planning for graduation began last September — largely done by McDonnell and his vice principal — with bursaries, scholarships, caps and gowns and other pieces of graduation already being nailed down. During the last week of May the students become more involved.

At J.L. Crowe in Trail principal David DeRosa will be talking to department heads on the particulars surrounding graduation, but he was confident it would happen June 15 for the school’s 153 grads.

He was quick to downplay the teachers’ job action dampening the excitement of Grade 12 graduation. Most of the teachers have been a big part of the lives of the students for the last five years, so they will want to see them through this last portion, he said.

“It’s the best part about being a teacher, when you get to see (students) walk across that stage. And to be a part of it, literally, it is one of the biggest rewarding things you can do as a teacher,” DeRosa said. “The majority of our teachers are there on grad night because they want to be part of that, not because they have to.”

He said the BCTF job action has created a difficult situation for the Greater Trail teachers, but he was confident it would all be sorted out for graduation.

“Most teachers coach and do these extra curricular things because they want to, not because any principal has ever said they should. They don’t get paid to do it, and they never asked to,” he noted.

Despite the vote in favour of curtailment of volunteer activities, the BCTF was supportive of the teams and activities still underway receiving teacher’s help.

“And, to a certain extent, that same wording could be applied to the things we have done with grad, where some of those things have been well underway since February,” DeRosa said.

The two-day graduation will still include the graduation ceremony and convocation on Friday, followed by photos in Gyro Park (in their graduation finery), and the Memory Walk at Cominco Arena followed by the prom dinner and dance.

However, teachers’ job action is affecting some school sports, with parents stepping in to coach teams in some cases.