If Ever There Was A Time….

Today’s post is inspired by a conversation with my administrative partner, following a request to forward our ideas about how best to navigate our way through the cancellation of Grade 8 graduations on one hand and the need to honour and recognize this graduating class on the other hand, to our senior team.  His response did not include a play by play proposal for how to create a COVID-19 virtual ceremony, instead he wondered if this year there could be a system generated response that all schools would embrace.

As many of us know, the variation in how Grade 8 students are recognized as they transition to Secondary School is wide and deep.  These ceremonies can be as simple and meaningful as a gathering in the elementary school auditorium, with a few awards, a few words, some pizza and pop and off to a bowling alley for an evening of fun in blue jeans and a sweat shirt or they can be as elaborate in their opulence and grandeur as a wedding in a Country Club setting complete with all the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood movie.  Most of them fall somewhere in between.  But the reality is that more often than not factors such as geographical location and the socio-economic status of the neighbourhood determine what that celebration will entail.

Fast forward to June 2020, when we are anticipating that mass gatherings, such as graduations (whether in school auditoriums or Country Clubs) will still be on the list of restricted activities, as we continue social distancing for the overall well-being of all. In knowing that information, I can’t help but wonder if this is the perfect time for us, as a school system, to strongly lead with our equity lens and collectively create a united and shared experience, whether virtual or face to face, that every graduating grade 8 student will have access to ~ regardless of where they live and which school they attend.

Just imagine if we were able to bring a shared sense of co-constructed guidelines, consistency and less variance in the magnitude of these celebrations as we move forward.  I have no doubt that as we begin to emerge from this pandemic our mindset on so many things will have to shift (and hopefully for the better).  I’m hoping and praying that we do not return to business as usual, because in some cases our business as usual modes of operation (although not intentional) shine a significant light on some of our inequities in the support of TVDSB students.

I would love your thoughts on the inconsistencies in Grade 8 graduations and how best to move forward.

Come write with me….

2 thoughts on “If Ever There Was A Time….

  1. You are so right Moira, We talk about equity, we designate special weeks and events to the “notion” of equity, but here is a prime example where we could actually do something about it. Yes, it will offend some, while others rejoice. But at the end of the day, we need to do something that will truly be “in service of students”. Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to craft such a compelling comment.

  2. Hi Sue,
    I agree so much with your point about the inequity of graduation ceremonies across our school board. Having led schools that offer experiences at both ends of the continuum I am struck by our willingness to talk about the importance of equity but, not examine closely how many of our practices reinforce the inequities we say we want to address.

    Public education at its core is intended to ensure all children have a chance to enter the larger world in an equitable, purposeful and meaningful way. That is a lofty goal. At the same time, if we really believe in it, we need to make a commitment to work away at the smaller things that we can have influence over. As a school board we could set guidelines for graduation ceremonies. It is as simple as that.

    All of these small, seemingly insignificant factors contribute to the experience of inequity; of not counting as much as someone else. Recently, a student at my school asked what could be done about the closing of our community pool in the coming year. He had heard that another wealthier community had just had a new centre opened with a big new pool. I said the community may be able to meet with the city to try and persuade them to change their minds. His response was “why would anyone listen to us”. There it is. He knew full well that his community didn’t have the same voice or influence.

    I am concerned about a growing mindset in society that seems so willing to support a “what’s in it for me’”and “to heck with everybody else” approach (Obama, 2020). Priviledge spawns priviledge. I get it. Yet, if there is a will , we could argue for equity and design something different especially, when it comes to graduation ceremonies within our school board.

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