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Estevan grad to proceed, but there might be some changes

The school is excited for the opportunity to celebrate its students, even if the teachers can't be involved.
Estevan Comprehensive School

ESTEVAN - The Estevan Comprehensive School is moving ahead with its plan to host its graduation ceremony on June 15 at Affinity Place, despite the latest round of sanctions from the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF).

In an interview with the Mercury and SaskToday, ECS principal James Jones said the school is really excited for the opportunity to celebrate its students, even if the teachers can't be involved. They hope to be involved, but plans are now in place if they can't.

"We had a meeting Sunday evening at the school with our school community council and a group of parents who have been instrumental from Day 1 with overseeing different committees and what have you," said Jones. "That meeting just brought everybody together to make sure that our contingency plans are in place should we need to activate them on Saturday."

If STF members can't be present, a few other faces would have to be part of the ceremony. Cathy Hiltz, who is the superintendent of schools (south) with the South East Cornerstone Public School Division, and former ECS principal Nathan Johnson, who is the division's superintendent of human resources, would look after handing out the diplomas and folders to the grads.

Also, a couple of community members have stepped forward. Robert Godfrey would serve as the master of ceremonies, and Patrick Fisher would be responsible for all of the technology, lighting and sound during the ceremony.

A dress rehearsal is scheduled for June 13 at 4 p.m., and former graduates have agreed to come back and help with the processional, getting students organized and making sure the pieces are in place.

"We're really fortunate that with those graduates that are returning, and parent volunteers, we'll be able to make sure that we give our graduates the appropriate rehearsal, and make sure that everything's ready to go for Saturday," said Jones.

Jones' speech to the graduates at the start of the ceremony would be pre-recorded.

"Nonetheless, I'm very excited to be able to acknowledge and honour the graduates who have put so much work into being graduates," said Jones.

Also pre-recorded would be Kevin Perkins' introduction of valedictorian Elora Holman.

Other speeches, such as the parents' tribute to the graduates and the grads' tributes, will be happening regardless. Also happening will be the grand march and dance, which will occur at Affinity Place after the diplomas are handed out. There will be a brief transition period, as the grads will have to change out of their gowns and into their formal attire, and the chairs will have to be removed from the floor of Affinity Place.

Also not affected will be the annual grad photo, scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. in front of the Estevan Court House.

Jones stressed grad at ECS is such a big event each year and a lot of time is dedicated to planning it. The initial planning meetings are held in early September and October. It's very well organized with lots of staff and parent involvement. But they had to have a contingency plan in case the teachers and administration couldn't be involved.

"We knew this could be a possibility, being in job action and sanctions," said Jones. "But we're really fortunate. There's so many people working behind the scenes and that contingency plan came together quite well."

Jones said he remains optimistic for a positive resolution that allows STF members to be involved with the ceremony because it's a celebration they look forward to every year.

The STF announced late last week it would be resuming job sanctions, starting on Monday, that included work to rule, meaning no extracurricular activities or noon hour supervision. The sanctions came after the latest breakdown in negotiations with the provincial government trustee bargaining committee.