A Message to the Grads of 2016 and Their Parents
by Michael Finch
I would like to share with you some comments regarding activities that our graduating classes typically engage in about this time of year.
Sentinel’s Grad Committee and Student Council work together to plan fun events that raise school spirit and celebrate their important educational milestone. Over the course of the year, students have participated in a variety of activities such as dressing up as their favourite Superhero, wearing their ‘tightest and brightest,’ formal wear day, and movie night, to name just a few.
Between now and the end of the year, there are other planned events that are approved by the school, such as the up-coming Grad Boat Cruise. The underlying theme of these events is one of good natured fun, while keeping within the context of what school is all about. There are also several formal occasions for celebration where families are invited. These include Commencement and the Grad Banquet.
In addition, our graduates typically choose to engage in other activities that they ‘self-organize.’ These activities fall outside the realm of school sponsored and approved activities. Our graduates are not alone in this. Many secondary schools around the Lower Mainland experience similar activities. Unfortunately, some of these activities have the potential to be harmful or produce negative effects on both individuals and the school community, especially when alcohol is involved.
The first non-sponsored grad event is usually referred to as Grad Kidnap Day. This is where teams of female students are assigned to “kidnap” one of the male students from their home early in the morning. In most cases, the male student is made to wear female clothing and on some previous occasions, was pressured to consume a quantity of alcohol prior to coming to school. In this activity, the female teams will typically contact the parents of the male student in advance, so that they may be given permission to enter the residence. This activity becomes problematic at school when many of our male graduates arrive in clothing that is highly inappropriate, and possibly under the influence of alcohol. There is additional risk when driving around the community is involved. In previous years, the administration has had to send some students home for the remainder of the day. Depending upon the circumstances, other disciplinary actions may be taken; such as a student not being permitted to attend the Grad Banquet or even suspension. We regret having to do this, but the impact on the learning environment, as well as our younger students is unacceptable.
The other non-sponsored grad event is called Spy versus Spy. This is where students use water pistols to eliminate other grads by squirting them with water until only one remains. This event has few boundaries regarding time of day or location. In past years, we have had reports of near-miss vehicle accidents in the community, as well as parents and families’ lives being disrupted at inappropriate times because of this ‘game.’
I am writing to you at this time not with the intention of interfering with these types of activities but to emphasize that there are non-alcohol sponsored events with risks involved. I know students look forward to them, and for the most part approach them in a well-intentioned way. I do want you to be aware, however, of some of the details regarding these two events in particular, and the potential impact on both the school and community. I encourage you to speak with your graduate about these points and share with them the information, so they may make an informed decision when the time comes.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.