By Steve Hubrecht
Options for local high school students to do some sort of grad march are being discussed, although nothing is certain, there are plenty of complications, and David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) has not given a final go-ahead of any sort. The tradition of DTSS grade 12 students parading down main street dressed in their graduation best stretches back quite some time, but earlier this spring it seemed as though the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing protocols it entails would cancel the custom this year.
There is now a chance that perhaps, just maybe, a type of grad march could be staged with appropriate social distancing, following a decision by Invermere council to close 7th Avenue (Invermere’s main street) to traffic for a potential ‘reverse’ march. The decision came during Invermere’s Tuesday, May 24 committee of the whole meeting, after council received correspondence from a parent representing the 2020 DTSS grads. The parent outlined the plan for the ‘reverse march’ and asked council to consider shutting down main street to traffic on Wednesday, June 24 for the march.
There are plenty of complications, however, that could throw a wrench into the works of any potential ‘reverse march,’ not least an order amendment from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Friday, May 22, which limits the number of vehicles at drive-in type events (including concerts, movies and high school graduations) to no more than 50 vehicles and imposes other restrictions. CBC reported earlier this week that the amendment has scuttled plans for a drive-in graduation ceremony at Mt. Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook, leaving organizers there searching for other options.
The ‘reverse march’ plan in Invermere — if it does in fact go ahead — would, instead of having the students march down main street in couples, see the couples standing along 7th Avenue, appropriately spaced apart, with spectators driving by in their cars in a loop circling south along 10th Avenue, east down 13th Street, and then north up 7th Avenue (past the grads). The time for the march would be shifted to a bit later than usual, so as not to interfere with the business hours of local shops on main street, and would be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The parent’s email mentioned that another potential idea which was turned down by the RCMP due to safety concerns, was to have spectators stand along main street as usual, while students went past standing in the back of pickup trucks or on floats.
Council enthusiastically supported the idea of a ‘reverse march’ at the May 24 meeting, with councillor Gerry Taft calling it “awesome” and council agreed to close 7th Avenue, if the march does go ahead.
File photo from 2019 grad march