Later graduation date aims to keep focus on studies

Crowe grads will save their big celebration until after exams are handed in this year.

Crowe grads will save their big celebration until after exams are handed in this year.

Transitioning into post-secondary life is taken very seriously, according to J. L. Crowe Secondary School principal David DeRosa, and with much thought and input from teachers and parents the decision was made to move ceremonies to June 24.

“There are several different factors that go into the decision for the date, and definitely we include considerations for the impact that grad may have on student learning,” he said. “We also take into consideration the impact on staff and the other students in the building. It is an important transition event for our students and their families, and we try to find a balance.”

The high school has always started the conversation of graduation early but now is supporting this discussion with a hands-on tool that allows students to plan their futures accordingly.

Student counsellor Dara Waterstreet is helping Crowe get signed up for, a program School District 20 purchased last year and is fully introducing this year.

The online tool allows students to punch in their course selection and credits before searching their eligibility for post-secondary institutions. Within those college or university programs, the site details everything from the cost and whether public transportation is available nearby.

“It’s pretty intense,” said Waterstreet from her office Tuesday. “It gives them options in terms of where they can go from there like what occupations those programs would lead to, and it even has job postings for each kind of occupation.”

Grade 12 student Annika Dixon-Reusz has already applied to her top choice, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s fashion and technology program.

“It’s really helpful to know what schools are available to us based on the courses and grades we’ve achieved and finding out what is possible in our future endeavors,” she said. “It really helps us become organized.”

Parents are thrilled too with the new tool if feedback from a recent grad meeting is any indication.

Currently, all grades 10, 11 and 12 students are plugged in, and the school is now working on getting its younger set up to speed.

“Some kids really know what they want, and we make sure they’re on the right track and choosing certain programs but for those kids that really have no idea, it gives them a bit more help in sorting through what careers are out there and what may interest them.”

Students who are still finding their path can also take surveys to find out more about what kind of learning style and personality they have and how that plays into career selection.

Waterstreet is hopeful that planning will broaden courses available and is already noticing a slight change. With enough students interested in subjects like law and geography, she said the high school can run these courses successfully with a full class.

“I’m hoping it (the program) opens the doors for some more of these courses,” she added. “Kids are now really having a great idea of what’s out there and what the differences are and making, I think, more educated choices about where they’re going and how they’re going to get there.”

DeRosa agrees that seeing what credit requirements are needed, helps students see first hand the impact their course planning and selection can have on their future beyond the comfortable hallways of high school.

It’s never too early, or late for the matter, to talk graduation. The subject is always discussed from studies right through to grad weekend.

DeRosa told the Trail Times last year that graduating students tend to see grad weekend, with the ceremony, memory walk and more, as a closing to their high school careers. When in fact, there was still classroom time and exams to write.

The hope is this year’s date change will allow students to remain focused on studies before capping off their five years of hard work with celebratory cheer.

Dixon-Reusz and her fellow grad council president Michael Moon said their class is on board with the change.

“The grad weekend is such a big event, and it involves a lot of energy and excitement and so it’s very easy to get caught up in the events of the weekend and you tend to fall behind,” said Dixon-Reusz.

“This way students can get all of their exams done and then can have fun on the weekend with the grad ceremonies without having to worry.”

Moon agrees.

“Having it a week before tests isn’t really an ideal thing … whereas now they have to finish school before they graduate and they’re not focused on their studies on top of graduating,” he said.