High school proms, safe grads still uncertain in Nova Scotia

High school proms, safe grads still uncertain in Nova Scotia

At least one Nova Scotia high school has decided not to host safe grad and prom this year, and that has parents in Sydney taking on the efforts themselves.

"It was non-negotiable to me," said Michelle Aucoin, whose son is set to graduate from Sydney Academy.

Aucoin and other parents formed the Blue and White Parents Safegrad Committee. They started their effort during work-to-rule, which ended Feb. 21 with an imposed contract.

Parents making plans

After it ended, the school opted not to get involved. The parents continued to plan the annual rite of passage.

"We literally meet online every night. An hour to two hours every day," Aucoin said.

Many grad committees have teacher representatives and volunteers. During work-to-rule, teachers withdrew from such extracurricular activities. Even with the end of the job action, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union has said it's up to individual teachers to decide if they want to resume such activities.

Up to individual schools

Across the province, it's up to each school to determine if it will go ahead with school-sanctioned proms and safe grads.

The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board also said they're hands off in graduation planning.

Cape Breton-Victoria board spokesperson Michelle MacLeod said school principals are expected to meet with staff soon to discuss how to go forward. So far, there's no consensus among the five high schools in the district, she said.

The level of parental involvement in the proms can vary from school to school, and even within schools from year to year, which can affect what happens around graduation time, said Kristen Loyst of the Annapolis Valley board.

Ready to help

In the Halifax-area, many grad activities are still up in the air.

"These are activities that are overseen by schools without involvement from the board," said Doug Hadley of Halifax Regional School Board. "I'm sure they will be discussing and sharing their plans with students and families in the coming days and weeks if they haven't already."

Christa Akerman, co-owner of the formal dress shop All Dressed Up, has written to every high school in the Halifax area. Her staff is ready to jump into action if teacher sponsors are not involved this year.

"We want to show the appreciation for all these people who support us from year to year," she said. "We want to make sure we support them, as well."

Akerman has been in contact with photographers and DJs, putting them on notice that she might need their services.

"We feel really good that there's wonderful parents out there who are there to help," she said. "I definitely think that prom will still be a go."