Saskatoon’s public high schools will stop hosting graduation banquets for students effective next year.
Letters were sent home Thursday with all Saskatoon public students from grades nine to 11 explaining the decision.
The letter stated the high schools had unanimously decided to stop putting on the banquets on the grounds they are too costly for some families to take part in, are becoming too complex to organize and present challenges in terms of safety.
On the costs to families, the letter noted expenses have come to extend beyond just tickets to the banquet — with grad pictures, after-grad events and purchases or rentals of dresses and tuxedos all adding to the financial strain.
“The total cost of the grad experience has created a financial hardship for some families in every school and has left some students unable to participate. This is contrary to our goal to offer a collective celebration of all graduates,” reads a portion of the letter, which was sent out to parents signed by their individual school’s principal.
The letter also noted the banquet events have become a burden to organize, requiring a team of staff volunteers to organize.
“The volunteer time of our staff can be better spent on the numerous clubs, sports and music/band events that have a year-long impact on the life of the school and the lives of our students.”
The letter also cited concerns around safety and security, noting while most people participating in the banquets do so “in the spirit of fellowship and celebration,” staff volunteers still find themselves dealing with attendees who behave unsafely or disrespectfully.
The note to parents also pointed out many families have chosen to hold their own events for their graduating children.
While banquets are being cancelled, the letter stated schools will still hold cap-and-gown graduation ceremonies, “as there are minimal costs associated with hosting this event.”
Catholic schools in Saskatoon haven’t made any decisions yet about whether they’ll keep going with grad banquets.
A spokesperson for the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools told 650 CKOM a few schools are discussing it, but they haven’t done any due diligence or consultation within the school community.