Motorists should be on the lookout for students in a bit more excited state than usual this week, being it’s the big week and weekend for high school graduates.
The formal graduation ceremonies actually start today, May 7 with the GROW/Skyline graduation ceremonies for 56 students taking place at 1 p.m. in the Marie Sharpe Elementary School gymnasium.
Friday night Columneetza and Williams Lake secondary grads will be participating in rehearsals at the Cariboo Memorial Complex where the formal graduation ceremonies will take place during the day Saturday, followed by the Dry Grad parade and Dry Grad festivities.
The Columneetza Secondary School graduation ceremonies for 135 students are set for 9:30 a.m. in the main arena at the complex followed by the Williams Lake Secondary School graduation ceremonies for 109 students at 1 p.m.
The grad parade will start marshaling on Second Avenue North by Sacred Heart Catholic School by 5:30 p.m. and will start rolling at 6:30 p.m.
The parade will travel south on Second Avenue, left on Borland Street, left on Third Avenue, and right onto Proctor Street to the complex for arrivals starting about 7:30 p.m.
The grad parade in Williams Lake is usually quite interesting for viewers with students riding on horseback, in horse-drawn carriages, in vintage vehicles, on trailered boats, on bicycles, in big trucks and even in the shovel of a backhoe last year.
Parents are encouraged not to stop traffic flow for picture opportunities, say organizers. There will be photo opportunities at the back of the complex and inside the complex.
Each graduate will receive two tickets which will allow two family or friends at a time to enter the main arena to see the prom decorations and take pictures.
The visiting session is between 7:30 and 9 p.m.
Visitors will enter through the side door of the complex on the Boitanio Park side of the building.
For fire safety reasons the number of people visiting inside at a time is limited.
After viewing is complete the family or friends will drop off their prom pass at the exit so that it may be used by other people waiting to view the prom area.
Guests entering the complex may be asked to have their purses and bags searched for safety purposes, organizers say.
Visitors will leave the complex at 9 p.m. when the prom and other Dry Grad festivities for grads and their escorts will begin.
This year’s theme, chosen by the grads, is Stars and Constellations, says Orlena McColl, who is heading up the decorations committee.
Grads and escorts will be able to dance, play on the “big” toys and participate in different games in the carnival-themed activities area. There is also a hypnotist who will be putting on performances throughout the night.
“It will be a fun-filled event, and About Face Photography will be on site for professional photos between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., and John Dell will be capturing it all as he is producing DVDs of the entire event, which will be available for purchase,” McColl says.
There will be prizes drawn throughout the night, but grads must be present to win the prizes. Grads and escorts who leave the building early will not be permitted back in the building.
Food will be served throughout the night, but breakfast will not be provided. Parents or guardians will pick up grads and escorts between 4 and 5 a.m. Sunday.
Grad committee co-chair Betty Turatus says the dry grad committee had a few challenges this year with their grant-in-aid, a solution for which has been worked wonderfully with the city and CRD, and with finding volunteers.
She says having more volunteers would have meant shorter shifts at Dry Grad but preparations are going smoothly.
“The grad event for this weekend is going great,” Turatus says. “The decoration committee starts on Wednesday (June 6) morning to do the set up. They will continue until they are done on Friday. Anyone wanting to help is welcome to go to the complex any time from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.”
She says students were also to receive their last newsletter about Dry Grad requirements on Wednesday along with their visitor prom passes for family and friends, and baggage check tags for the rehearsal and baggage check-in on Friday evening.
“It is important the grad brings his/her bag and their guest’s bag to rehearsal on Friday,” Turatus says. “It might be a good idea for parents to ask for the newsletter if they haven’t seen it.”
While teachers are not expected to participate in the formal graduation ceremonies due to job action related to stalled contract negotiations, Turatus says the teacher job action has not affected the Dry Grad event which is a parent/community organized event.
She thanks the community for its “continually fantastic support” for Dry Grad whether it is via donations of funds or prizes, the opportunity to do fundraising or volunteering.
“It really does take the whole community to make the event a success,” Turatus says.
“The committee this year has been great and it has been a pleasure working with all of them.”
Dry Grad co-chair Bill Page says the event is quite expensive to put on costing about $50,000. to cover costs for food, entertainment, arena rental and the like. He says the truck raffle will likely be their biggest fundraiser once all the tickets are sold. Unfortunately he says his own daughter sprained a knee playing soccer recently and won’t be able to enjoy the dancing of some of the other games that are being provided such as laser tag and bungie run.