Parents and students are starting to speak out against an annual grad party that claimed a Penticton teen’s life last week.
Kevin Andrews has a son that is going into Grade 12 at Penticton Secondary School next year and is encouraging the parents, students and community to call for an end to the camp out that takes place the day before the school year starts.
“It is time to end this tradition,” said Andrews.
He said there has been lots of talk about the parties, known as Sunrise and Sunset, before and after the death of Andrew McAdam, and many of the students have already agreed that other plans need to be made for future events.
“So as we mourn the loss of this young man just short of his 17th birthday and prepare for the next group of students to enter Grade 12 at our high schools, ask yourself what you can do, or better yet, ask yourself what you will do to make positive difference in their lives,” said Andrews, who is a former school board trustee.
“We as a community have a vested interest in our students so let’s stand together and be there for them, to guide or supervise them to encourage them and cheer them on, and most importantly to pick them up if they fall down. Whether it’s your child or your neighbours’, we do care, and together we can make a difference.”
He said whatever the alternative is, the students need to be involved in coming up with the idea.
“I think the kids have already started that process. I also think parents need to be awfully careful and awfully involved at the same time so they don’t push their kids. My experience in working with kids in the school is that kids like to be able to develop the ideas on their own and don’t like to be doing something because someone told them to,” said Andrews.
“We need to provide the opportunity to ask kids what they want to do rather than parents tell them what to do. Hopefully they know as well that our door is open and they can say ‘hey this is what we want to do, can you help us make it work?’”
Josh Sauter, a close friend of McAdam’s who will be attending Grade 12 at Pen High next year, said students would most likely view an alternative to the sunrise and sunset parties as a positive.
“It would be a wonderful idea to do something different,” said Sauter. “I think kids would be open to that. Everyone loved Andy very much, so I am sure everyone would give support to something in memory of him.”
Sauter said plans are underway to also host a memorial event, probably at Okanagan Beach, on July 17 for McAdam. He said all the details haven’t been hashed out yet, but encourages McAdam’s friends to join the Facebook group ‘In honor of our dearest friend.’
“It is a get together for the friends so we can sit around and talk about our memories. We want it to be a drama-free night,” said Sauter.