Penticton grad festivities carry a sombre note

Family of teen killed at grad party last year calls for an end to "sunset" celebration

The family of the teen who died at a grad party known as sunset said it is time to end the event that has tainted a time of celebration.

Wiping tears from her face, the older sister of a Pen High teen stabbed to death at the bush party last year spoke Monday from the steps of the courthouse where her brother’s accused killer made an appearance.

“A group of us are thinking of putting a car across the road to prevent kids going up there (sunset party). If we can’t prevent it, then I guess we should supervise it. Every year something bad happens at these parties,” said Heather McAdam, pointing to incidents such as drunk drivers, sexual assaults and deaths.

Her brother, Andrew McAdam, was one of those tragedies. He would have been in this year’s graduating class. Last year, on June 17, he attended the sunset party held in the rural Carmi Road area with his other sister where over 100 students gathered for the year-end celebration. RCMP reported at the time a fight broke out around 2 a.m. and Andrew was stabbed. The teen died shortly after arriving at the Penticton hospital.

The slain teen’s mom, Linda Childs, shook her head at how things have ended up and the impact it has had on the family the past year.

“I spent all those holidays at a grave, looking at a stone,” she said.

In celebration of the teen’s life, a memorial walk is occurring on Sunday starting at the Penticton Library at 6:30 p.m. down to Okanagan Lake. After, they will meet at the Japanese Gardens to light candles and release balloons.

While the sunset party historically has taken place the evening before the last day of school, the class of 2012 has already found themselves in hot water. Another grad ritual turned into a booze-soaked event for some students last Monday morning that spilled into the downtown core. An apology letter was sent out for the grad-napping event that sees female graduating students dress up their male counterparts in women’s clothing. This year, some of the students showed up drunk to school and were sent away.

“When a lot of the kids got kicked out of school, they ended up walking downtown and I hear the businesses were upset with how rowdy they were and the fact there were drunk teenagers downtown on a Monday,” said a female student, who penned an apology letter on behalf of the class, but wished to remain anonymous. “It happens every year, but I guess this year was just worse than usual.”

The letter offers an apology to the city, downtown businesses, students, teachers, administrators and custodial staff, and notes the class is trying to come up with a way to make amends.

Penticton Secondary School principal Bill Bidlake said some students were suspended, but did not disclose how many, saying that is “private.”

He said students were warned the week before that alcohol and school don’t mix, and to look after one another. Letters also went out to all parents indicating this is the time of year these types of events occur. The sunset party is not a school function, but Bidlake said there doesn’t seem to be the same hype surrounding it this year.

“I have talked to the students about it and they don’t seem to be hearing very much about sunset this year, so I am hoping that because of what happened last year there wont be a sunset this year,” said Bidlake, adding a dry grad committee sets up an after prom event for students.

Still, former School District 67 trustee and parent Kevin Andrews is concerned about an impending sunset party and other activities. He said the community needs to “wake up” on this issue and take more of an active and positive approach. He said parents need to question their children on what events they are attending and to get involved. Andrews is interested in meeting with parents and community members on this issue.

“Let’s help our students finish this school year on a positive note. Let’s help them be successful and let us hope that no one’s actions leave a negative legacy for future students,” said Andrews, adding he can be reached at glen2809@hotmail.com.

 

Just Posted

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

(Drive BC photo)
Vehicle incident closes Highway 3 east of Osoyoos

Drive BC says to avoid the area until the road is clear

Osoyoos chef Murray McDonald was ecstatic upon realizing he scored the $1 million guaranteed prize in the June 2, 2021 Lotto 6/49 draw. (Contributed)
Osoyoos chef ecstatic after bagging $1 million Lotto 6/49 win

Chef Murray McDonald was at home and ready to doze off to sleep when he got a text from his wife

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

A home on Cameo Drive sustained major damage due to an early morning fire Monday, June 21. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Fire sparked during Vernon home renovation

Heavy black smoke from Cameo Drive home, no one inside

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Most Read