School District No. 46 (SD46) wants parents to be aware that not all grad trips are condoned by the district after representatives from S-Trip! were recently asked to leave the school grounds of Chatelech Secondary School.
S-Trip! is a travel company that's been in existence since 1976. They market, among other things, trips for graduating students to go to exotic places like Hawaii, Cuba, the Bahamas and Costa Rica. The grad trips are open to students only with rules parents cannot attend and a search on YouTube shows students sometimes drink, smoke and party while away.
Alexander Handa, president of S-Trip!, said students who aren't of age are given different coloured wristbands to keep establishments from selling them alcohol. S-Trip! considers 18-year-olds from Canada to be of legal drinking age. Despite the precaution Handa admitted that sometimes students under the age of 18 do consume alcohol during the grad trips.
"I think that we do as good of a job as a local high school does in preventing students from drinking the way a school would at a dance," Handa said.
He said several checks are in place to ensure students obey the rules and if they're caught breaking them (such as drinking under age or not coming back to the hotel by curfew) parents are called.
When asked why parents couldn't attend the trips Handa said adults can be a problem.
"We did many years ago, six or seven years ago, have parents travel on the trip and had problems with you know both parents drinking and parents conducting themselves inappropriately with other students and other people," he said.
What the principal of Chatelech Secondary School found inappropriate was the un-announced arrival of an S-Trip! salesperson onto school grounds last week. The salesperson was trying to entice Grade 11 students to start saving for next year's exotic grad trip destination.
Private companies are not allowed to sell their products or services on school property without prior approval of the school principal.
"We're fully aware that the school doesn't want or doesn't have involvement in any of our graduation trips," Handa said, noting his company trains students to pitch the trips without using school time or school property.
SD46 wants parents to be aware that if a student brings home a brochure from S-Trip! the grad trips advertised are not supported by the school district.
"Since we are not responsible for student supervision or trip planning, we are not able to endorse their product," Patrick Bocking, superintendent of schools said. "They are not associated with graduation or any other school functions."
He noted there are many trips for local students that SD46 does support.
"We do work with other agencies that work closely with school staff on exciting trips to Europe. Also, the Chatelech Band enjoyed a wonderful trip to Hawaii this past year as a part of their musical experience," Bocking said. "We have many other trips off Coast that involve sports, outdoor education and other program areas. School-supported trips are very well organized, supervised, and supported by School District No 46."
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