Grad marks end at Robson

The last Grade 7 graduating class from John Robson elementary was forced to hold their graduation ceremony at the La Perla Ballroom because of the teachers strike. - Nery Monzon/NM images
The last Grade 7 graduating class from John Robson elementary was forced to hold their graduation ceremony at the La Perla Ballroom because of the teachers strike.
— image credit: Nery Monzon/NM images

End-of-school traditions have been casualties of the teachers strike, but parents at John Robson elementary kept one alive. Every year Grade 7s graduating from Robson have been treated to a trip to the water slides at Cultus Lake and another to Loon Lake Camp north of Maple Ridge. Those were cancelled because of the strike. But their parents made sure the last group to graduate from Robson before it falls to the wrecking ball weren’t deprived of a third tradition.

That would be the annual grad ceremony. This one, though, wasn’t at the school.

Isabel Downey said a group of parents were chatting earlier this month, bemoaning the loss of the three milestone events the students had been anticipating all year.

“[The students] don’t understand because of the politics,” said Downey. “My son was missing out on these things. Last year, my other son got to go to Loon Lake, got to go to the water slides and go to the grad ceremony. So my son got to see his sibling do all these things and he doesn’t get to.”

So instead of grumbling the parents decided to do something about it. Parent advisory council (PAC) chair Serena Trachta told them that while the field trips were out of the question maybe they could still cobble together a grad ceremony. The PAC provided some funds for it and Downey and fellow parents Kim Nezezon and Jeannie Chown hit the phones for the rest.

The community came through. La Perla Ballroom at River Market provided the space, Stefano’s restaurant and Safeway the food, and Starbucks the coffee, all at big discounts.

“It’s kind of nice local businesses are willing to help out these students missing out on these activities,” said Downey.

About 30 students, two striking teachers and an educational assistant came to the ceremony along with about 90 friends and family Monday afternoon.

“The ceremony turned out lovely,” said Downey. “The parents were really appreciative.

“These children have been affected by the strike action. The strike affects [everyone], but this is a milestone year for them and we hope we were able to help with some closure on their elementary years.”

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