Parents of graduating students, wanting to celebrate their accomplishments, have taken it upon themselves to plan special dinners to commemorate the milestone.
It started with a group of 10 parents whose children attend Pitt Meadows Secondary School. They started making plans for a graduation celebratory dinner in January.
“We had a suspicion the restrictions at the time would result in very little planning by the school district,” said Laurine Croshaw, one of the organizers.
Initially they started planning for a dinner and dance for 50 students. However, current restrictions will not allow for the dance portion of the celebration, said Croshaw.
So, they hired comedian Patrick Maliha to entertain instead.
At the beginning of May, school district superintendent Harry Dhillon sent a letter home to graduating students in the district and their families offering “guidance” on how their special day could be celebrated this year. Guidance, he said, that was developed in consultation with the Ministry of Education, The BC Centre for Disease Control, and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer.
In it, he said, dances, dinners, or associated dry grad events would not be allowed under the provincial order for gatherings and events.
He noted grad ceremonies would be able to take place, but would fall under the provincial COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for students from kindergarten to Grade 12.
Meaning, outdoor ceremonies would be preferable to indoor and masks mandatory indoors, except when students are in the act of crossing the stage and receiving their diploma.
UPlan, the Youth Planning Table subcommittee, made up of about 20 students from the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district, spent a full day at the end of May, decorating 10 businesses along 224 Street, plus the street itself, with balloons, ribbons, decals, and decorative graduation caps and scrolls, for a Grad Walk. Starting on June 1, grads can find their school emblem and colours in one of the storefront windows and take pictures there with their caps and gowns.
The Pitt Meadows secondary dinner will be taking place at Pitt Meadows Golf Club at 6:30 p.m. on June 19.
“We had to move our date three times,” said Croshaw. But, she said the event director at the golf course, Julie Pellecchia, helped them tremendously by doing everything to help them make sure the event happens.
There will be gifts , a COVID-friendly game with prizes and, most importantly, the grads will get to wear their formal attire.
“The girls are quite excited to be able to wear long gowns and the boys will have the opportunity to sport their suits,” noted Croshaw.
Three other parent groups have since followed their lead, said Croshaw. The golf club is hosting a total of four different graduation celebration including Croshaw’s –two for grads at Pitt Meadows Secondary School and two for those at Samuel Robertson Technical.
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