PORT McNEILL—Students at North Island Secondary School will no longer have to choose between the provincial soccer championships and their graduation ceremonies.
But some North Island families may have to choose which school’s grad to attend after administrators at NISS decided this fall to move the school’s graduation date one week later in June.
The move, designed in part to alleviate conflicts suffered by the school’s successful soccer program in the past few years, will put the NISS grad on the same night Port Hardy Secondary School holds its student grad ceremony in Port Hardy.
“One year the grads on the soccer team had to fly back from provincials to make it to grad,” said Lauren Deadman, principal at NISS. “The next year, they had to make a decision whether they even wanted to stay for the final day of the tournament, or just come home.
“It’s gotten to the point where one it’s one of the factors in deciding whether they even want to play soccer, and we wanted our students to have the opportunity to shine wherever they could.”
The new graduation day will move NISS from the first weekend in June, when the soccer provincials are held, to the second weekend of the month.
Administrators admit there could be conflicts among families with relatives at both schools, or for students who wish to see friends at the neighbouring school graduate. However, there is a partial solution to that dilemma — and it is built into the current grad schedule at each school.
Port Hardy Secondary holds two separate ceremonies; an official leaving ceremony with caps, gowns, scrolls and scholarships, at 11 a.m., and another evening ceremony devoted to the students in a display of formal gowns, slideshows and speeches.
NISS, meanwhile, holds a single, evening grad ceremony, which would allow people to catch at least the early PHSS grad ceremony and also be able to attend the NISS grad in Port McNeill later the same evening.
“It was their decision, and we’re making an effort to ensure it works as well as possible for everybody,” Port Hardy Secondary vice-principal Malcolm Fleeton said. “The hardest thing is if someone has family in both communities. But in talking with the NISS administration, that’s something we should be able to work out.”
NISS began polling families of students on a potential grad date change last spring, almost immediately following the 2012 commencement ceremony.
“We contacted everyone we could think of that might be impacted,” said Deadman. “We talked to parents and students, looked at the entertainment, photography, catering. We felt there just wasn’t anything that couldn’t be resolved.
“For the Port McNeill community, it seems to be a win-win situation.”