LETTER: Williams Lake Dry Grad Committee officially cancels traditional festivities for 2020

Socially distanced photos to adorn some local businesses


We understand that the cancellation of Dry Grad festivities (originally planned for June 13), which include the parade and the celebration that follows at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex, is a big loss for the community, especially the grads and their families.

We fully understand the sadness as many of the Dry Grad executive have graduates of our own. All of us took on this enormous task to ensure that all of the grads in Williams Lake had a safe and fun way to celebrate this milestone. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation as the best way to keep our grads and the community safe is to cancel the very events that were designed for safety.

We have spent countless hours planning, re-imagining, hoping, brainstorming, wishing and discussing our options. Unfortunately due to the provincial COVID-19 restrictions in place we are unable to host a mass gathering nor a traditional parade, which we know is a favourite of the entire community.

We have looked at many options including but not limited to postponing, breaking things up into smaller groups and doing things on a smaller scale. For many reasons we are unable to make these ideas work during these uncertain times.

The WL Dry Grad Committee, which is important to note is separate from the schools and is not responsible for the actual convocation ceremonies. Those ceremonies are hosted by the schools administration and teachers. The Dry grad celebrations rely heavily on community volunteers and business support which may well include teachers and or support staff, but it is done as a community effort and is in no way a function of the school district or individual schools in the community.

As always, Dry Grad has much community support; however, we cannot break the laws which are currently in place to ensure the safety of all BC citizens. In the best interest of the community and the longevity of the Williams Lake Dry Grad we must comply with the rules that are in place.

We have asked for permission, as is the usual practice of the Dry Grad Committee, to host the traditional parade, which was denied due to the large number of spectators it draws. We plan to resubmit a re-imagined (reverse and social distanced) parade in the hopes that will be approved.

READ MORE: Graduates invited to participate in free, mini photo shoots May 27-28

We have also received approval from the generous businesses and individuals that have donated items for Dry Grad, to use them for a silent Facebook auction that started May 24. We will continue with the fundraising efforts that are possible or are already in place, without asking for additional business donations, as many businesses are still unable to open and we have to be sensitive to the fact that some may not be able to, even as restrictions are lifted.

We do, however, hope to feature the pictures of our grads in business windows when they reopen, so that we can celebrate the grads for a longer period of time throughout the community. To that end, Laureen Carruthers has graciously offered to take pictures of all of the Williams Lake high school graduates.

We are hoping to get a picture of every grad taken within four sessions. These are to be casual, seated photos on the WL field. This is open to grads of every school and those that would like to participate will be asked to adhere to COVID-19 protocols and let our Communications Chair know that you plan to attend. Her e-mail is clgrondines@hotmail.com. Parent signed photo release forms will be required prior to having your photo taken. We have a limited number of spots per session so it is imperative that we both maximize and limit the amount of participants each time. The reason we are doing a casual mini photo shoot is that we are trying to provide an inclusive opportunity to help all grads celebrate their achievement. Many of the grads cannot access their formal wear at this time. This is not meant to take the place of formal photo shoots.

Parents are encouraged to book formal photo shoots for their grads should they wish, or to make a fun day of taking the photos themselves.

The Dry Grad Car raffle will still take place and will start shortly. Bottles can still be donated at the bottle depot to Williams Lake Dry Grad.

We will use the remaining money that has been donated this year; as well as any fundraising money that we raise to pay for the printing costs of the pictures, for keepsakes for every one of the 265 grads and towards the costs associated with the re-imagined parade should we get approval for it. As is customary, we also plan to leave a healthy base for next year’s Dry Grad Committee to start planning with.

READ MORE: How the City of Williams Lake and SD27 are responding to concerns

As Dry grad is a nine-month planning process next year’s committee may also experience restricted fundraising and planning opportunities, so it is important for us to not drain the account.

We have been watching the provincial COVID-19 updates regularly to see what can be done and have left the final decision to cancel Dry Grad later than most other event planners, just in case things turned around. However; it would appear that mass gatherings are off the table for the summer.

Please stay safe, healthy and support you graduate the best way you can with small, private celebrations in your homes or back yards.

Thank-you to all of the executive and supporters for their continued dedication and hard work.

Williams Lake Dry Grad Committee

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