Public high schools in Regina have made the decision to eliminate graduation banquets.
Letters were recently sent home from all high schools in the Regina Public Schools system indicating that after collaboration with principals, the decision was made to no longer host banquets.
Superintendent of student achievement Rick Steciuk said the issue was originally brought up last year by principals, and then discussed by School Community Councils. Those councils include parents.
Steciuk said the primary concern was one of equity, pointing out that some students and many families couldn’t attend the event because it was too costly. He outlined how some families had to pick and choose which grandparents they invited because of this.
The second concern surrounded legal obligations placed on staff. The letters indicated that they are responsible for the safety and well-being of all attendees. Steciuk expanded on that slightly, saying some events simply became too much for them to handle.
“It was just very difficult for us to manage and a lot of times it became about the management of the event rather than the celebration it should have been,” he explained.
High school students at Winston Knoll Collegiate aren’t pleased with the news.
“It makes me feel really sad. I know my friends and I are kind of upset about it,” said Elizabeth Black.
“I was pretty upset because I was looking forward to it since Grade 9,” said Jakki Yauck.
Steciuk indicated that discussions are happening to see if another event can replace the banquets to make it more fair for all students. That could include a reception or a prom.
“The school’s staffs really do see the need for a celebration and don’t want to minimize that or take away from this important milestone in a Grade 12 student’s life but we do want to provide that equity there,” he said.
If a different event is decided on he clarified it would be solely for students, not families. The Cap and Gown ceremony will remain as is and that will be an opportunity for family to be involved in graduation Steciuk explained.
But that’s of little consolation for Yauck.
“There’s quite a few of the girls who are saying that they don’t like that we’re just having a prom,” she insisted.
Black is in the same position.
“I don’t think that that’s anything that Canada as a whole has ever been about because we’ve always been more about you go with your parents and you have fun with your friends for the last time and I think that really sucks that that’s not a thing anymore,” she said.
“My parents are upset about it because obviously now they won’t really have anything other than a Cap and Gown ceremony,” Black added.