After a tragic death at a graduation party last summer, the beginning for this year’s crop of grad students has started smoothly.
Graduating students traditionally have a party called sunrise the evening before the first day of classes. This year’s party was held on Campbell Mountain, what is known to some as Beer Tree, and RCMP said there is little to report.
“It sounds like we have started off on a good note this year. There was an alternate party that was parent chaperoned up Carmi and there was no drugs or alcohol allowed, so it sounds like it was a good start to the year,” said Sgt. Rick Dellebuur.
Andrew McAdam was supposed to be included in the Pen High 2012 grad class, instead students are left only with memories of him after he was stabbed to death on June 17 while attending his older sister’s grad party. Dubbed sunset, the party is a continuation of sunrise but held the evening before the last day of the school year.
RCMP had extra resources on patrols on Monday night at both party locations to check for liquor, but Dellebuur said the watch commander reported nothing problematic occurred.
“I think it was lower key and there were more concerns with parents who maybe are saying no to their kids when they ask if they can go to these things considering what has taken place in the past. That is the only way it’s going to stop these booze parties is when parents start saying no,” said Dellebuur.
Parents of a 2012 Pen High graduate, Marian and Mike Brisdon, spent the summer planning a private party and camp-out for Pen High grads as an alternate event for them to attend. Sun-Up-Alooza was a drug and alcohol free party and the Facebook group for the event indicated that it was a safe, fun night.
“It was a epic success,” said Marian. “I reminded the kids the concept of this party came forward because of a fallen classmate. They themselves chose to do something different. What happened on June 17 was unacceptable to them and coming here was a statement of that. If anything is going to change it will happen with this grad class.”
Both parents and their graduating kids organized work-bee events to prep and set up lights on the private property for the party and assisted in supplying food to feed the 115 grads that camped out overnight. Other donations included the time of parents, portable toilets and the services of All’s Well Security. The Brisdons said security volunteers escorted, without incident, two 30-something men out who tried to crash the party around 4 a.m.
“I have to say as I’m reading all these wonderful posts that I have tears in my eyes … very thankful that you provided an atmosphere where our kids were in a safe haven, had a blast (with ghostly supervision), had great food provided, awesome lights, DJs, a fire, and all with no problems unlike what could/would have happened at another party,” wrote parent Lynda Sociedade.
School District 67 superintendent Wendy Hyer said letters were sent out to parents of Grade 11 and 12 students emphasizing the sunrise and sunset parties are not school events.
“We encouraged the parents to keep them home,” said Hyer, adding a letter was also sent to RCMP. “We said we would be very happy to work with a community policing committee that looks at community issues to support the safety of youth as well as educating and informing parents.”
Hyer said representatives from the school board have been invited to the RCMP community advisory committee meeting on Sept. 28.