Sooke School District students’ petition for traditional grad gathers steam

Sooke School District students' petition for traditional grad gathers steam
WatchA petition against plans for virtual grad ceremonies in the Sooke School District is gathering steam. Students say they'd rather wait for a traditional event, even if it takes months. Mary Griffin reports.

It’s quiet at all Vancouver Island schools.

Students are home, finishing up their school work, including Grade 12 student Jadyn Sandford. But she’s also making time to get involved in a petition organized by student Brianna Gruber.

“What we’re trying to do is postpone our graduation, just because right now it’s all virtual and online. We worked really hard to get to where we are today. And we’d like to have more of a celebration,” Sandford said.

Like other Grade 12 graduates in BC, there will be no ceremony marking the end of high school. But Sandford and her friends would like to see the ceremony postponed until next year or even have a drive-through ceremony.

Superintendent of the Sooke School District Scott Stinson has provided an update on graduation for students.

“With the advice from the provincial health officer, Dr. Henry, unfortunately, large gatherings are not allowed to occur in the province right now,” Stinson said.

As an alternative, the school district is organizing an online ceremony, with speeches, and photos in real-time, as are most school districts across British Columbia.

Some districts in Canada are marking graduation in non-traditional ways. At one high school, photos of each graduate, spaced two meters apart to respect the rules of social distancing, lined the sidewalk outside the school.

“What we will be able to do, however, is be able to acknowledge you in a graduation ceremony. It’ll look different. It won’t be walking across the stages you have seen others in the past years do,” Stinson said.

But in the Sooke, students like Sandford say it’s important to have that personal experience.

“Mainly because of the memories. Like everyone remembers getting pictures with their friends. And remember the ceremony itself not just walking across a computer screen,” Sandford said.

More than 3,700 signed the petition so far. And students are hopeful there is time for some kind of traditional graduation.

READ MORE: K-5 students in B.C. could be back in school in June


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