Alcohol spills into grad celebrations

Dry grad celebrations have been a common practice for B.C. high school students for the better part of a generation.

Dry grad celebrations have been a common practice for B.C. high school students for the better part of a generation.

But while the dry grad campaign has made a noticeable difference on graduation ceremonies across the province, it has done little to curtail alcohol-fuelled celebrations in the days and weeks leading up to the students’ final day of class. All too often, those celebrations turn to tragedy.

And those in Penticton don’t have to look very far to see the consequences that can result. While students across the province were celebrating the end of another school year, Pen High students filed into Penticton United Church on Saturday to mourn the loss of Andrew McAdam.

The Grade 11 student was stabbed to death at a grad party in the remote Carmi Road area June 17, only days before his 17th birthday.

Both the school district and RCMP say there is little they can do about the annual parties as they are not an officially sanctioned school event. While most of the onus must be placed on students to celebrate responsibly, there is more that can be done to reinforce positive decisions on the part of the students.

Police have expressed frustration in the past over breaking up the parties only to see them spring up in new locations. But police must commit the resources to attempt to keep the parties in check.  And the school district must come up with a policy to deal with non-school-sanctioned events, including the loss of dry grad funding if there are any student activities where alcohol is involved.

Out of sight, out of mind is no longer an adage that can be applied to this community’s children. Because the tragedy that unfolded far from prying eyes in the isolated Carmi Road area will remain on the mind of the community’s residents for many years to come.

— Penticton Western News