Alberni grad ceremony will go ahead despite job action

The ceremony for 261 students graduating from Alberni District Secondary could be affected by teachers’ ceasing extra curricular activities.

Alberni District Secondary School Grade 12 Giulia Grumbach

The ceremony for 261 students who are graduating from Alberni District Secondary School this year could be affected by teachers’ withdrawal from extra curricular activities.

Last week, B.C. teachers voted 73 per cent in favour of withdrawing volunteer services to protest the Education Improvement Act, or Bill 22.

Alberni District Teachers Union president Ken Zydyk would not disclose how the local vote break down. “It’s BCTF policy to report the results as a whole B.C. wide,” he said.

Extra curricular activities include sports, dinners, field trips, theatre and other activities that teachers do outside of instructional school hours.

“This was a difficult decision for all teachers to have to make because they enjoy these activities as much as the kids do,” Zydyk said. “But we feel we have been forced into a corner and have to do this.”

Zydyk was clear that the protest timeline was 10 weeks; that it will end at the end of June. But it will impact whatever activities have been planned up to then — including the ADSS Grade 12 graduation ceremony on June 29.

“If it is outside of instructional hours then yes it will be included,” Zydyk said. “Just because we won’t volunteer doesn’t eliminate the event because there are still administrators and the public.”

Teachers’ participation in extracurricular activities is voluntary, so how can a vote not to do it be mandatory? Zydyk explains, “73 per cent of teachers voted not to do it so I’m confident that teachers will follow that decision.”

The grad ceremony and scholarship bursary night (June 13) are being examined closely as a result of recent development, ADSS principle Mike Ruttan said.

Teachers are an integral part of the grad ceremony, and assist with the grad parade, march-in, handing out certificates, and security among other things, Ruttan said.

But it’s not clear yet how the grad event will be impacted.

“We couldn’t do some of the things without teachers support,” he said. “We’re going to look at what we have to do to make this happen,” he said.

There will still be a ceremony, Ruttan said; just maybe not as big as it has been in the past.

As for other extracurricular activities, ADSS has one of the highest number of teachers who coach in the province, so the effect could be far and wide.

But there’s a caveat to the withdrawal of extracurricular participation. “My understanding is that teachers won’t pull the plug on anything that has already started,” Ruttan said, adding that track and field has already started.

“And it’s so close to the end of the school year (June 15) that I doubt anything new is going to start.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com