Whistler Secondary School principal Bev Oakley has sent a letter to the parents of the graduating class outlining her concerns about the tradition of "grad kidnapping" parties. During these parties Grade 12s are taken by classmates to private homes and historically there has been binge drinking.
"We have already had a couple of near misses, and we feel that it is just a matter of time before a grad is severely injured or killed," wrote Oakley, who co-authored the letter with vice-principal Stuart Bent, referring to experiences with kidnapping parties of past graduating classes.
Oakley hopes getting the issue out in the open could deter situations that could be dangerous for youth. She is also concerned that students are in no state to learn the day after the weeknight kidnapping parties take place.
"Our second concern is that students come to school NOT prepared or even able to learn," she states in the letter. "Their presence in classes is negative. They sleep, which is the least bad thing. They often can't control their behaviour, causing disruptions to the class and their teachers. This purposeful disregard for the learning environment is not consistent with the values of our school. Learning is supposed to be the priority; fun should support learning, not disrupt it."
The school will contact parents of students who come to class unable to learn due to partying and ask them to take their kids home. Students may also face suspension.
The students in this year's graduating class are upset at the principal's letter and say they have taken steps to make sure the "kidnappings" are fun and safe.
In a joint letter by the class to Oakley they state: "The Graduating Class of 2013 was shocked at the accusations about what happened on the night of grad kidnapping. The main reason behind our surprise and frustration was because no one bothered to talk to us before releasing these false allegations. In the (principal's) letter it states: 'WSS in conjunction with WCSS and the RCMP is concerned about the changes in the grad kidnappings.' The only 'changes' in the grad kidnapping were changes for the better."
These changes, said the students, included plans to make sure that that no one was drinking and driving, force-fed alcohol or "bound and tossed into the back of a vehicle," and anyone wanting to leave the party could. Parents, they added, were aware of what was going on.
"The Grad Class of 2013 strongly believes that this has been blown way out of proportion."
In her response to the grad class, Oakley pointed out that parties on school nights were in fact brought up at the first grad committee meeting.
Morgan McGaw, a WSS student who is on the school's grad committee, went to the only "kidnapping" party this fall, where the girls were charged with "kidnapping" the boys. They were taken to a home where the owner was present in the attached suite she said, and "40-something" teens took part.