Safegrad sees Grade 12s party safely

Belmont grads roll into exam season with fun time at City Centre Park

Belmont secondary graduates are here for a good grad, and a Safegrad.

An initiative spearheaded by the school, alongside parent volunteers, promises a safer after-prom party for graduating Grade 12 students than the alternative, says principal Ray Miller.

“We are trying to curb behaviour and negative tradition by hosting this event,” he says.

“We spend thousands of dollars keeping kids safe and not going out for what has sometimes been an unhealthy tradition at proms, going out drinking and carrying on and sometimes ending up in tragedy.”

Miller says he’s proud that the student buy-in for the three-year-old program has climbed steadily, starting with approximately 150 students in 2012, to 230 in 2013, to more than 300 of 400 graduating students this year.

“We are happy to announce we have over 75 per cent staying for safe grad. This trend has gone up over time and we can only thank the community. It is the community who we lobby for resources so we can buy safe grad fun events at City Centre Park.”

The regular school prom happens Friday (June 14) from 5 to 11:30 p.m. and includes a dinner and a dance.

Safegrad picks up from there, running through until 5 a.m. the next morning. Activities for this year’s Hollywood-themed event include bowling at Langford Lanes, limo rides, DJ music, a casino, hamster balls to run in, laser tag, sumo wresting, mini golf, bingo and more.

“The West Shore and Belmont probably have the most (parent) volunteers putting on the prom event,” Miller said. “It is an unbelievable spectacle. We transform City Centre Park … You wouldn’t even recognize the place after (decorators) are finished with it.”

Miller said a small army of donors and parent volunteers make the event happen, with more than 50 parents coming in to set up and decorate before the event starts, shifts of parents staying throughout the night to work the grad, and dozens more coming in to clean up after the party is over.

Donors also help pay for and provide door prizes for students who attend Safegrad, with the City of Langford alone pitching in more than $10,000 of the $50,000 to $60,000 tab for the event.

“We want to support the kids from our community and make sure they are safe when they have their grad events,” said Langford Coun. Denise Blackwell.

“We have seen tragedy in other communities when kids go out and party on grad and or ruin their lives and we want to help with that. It is a long, hard haul to get through Grade 12 and I am proud of them all for getting through the year and getting through 12 years of school. I think this is an investment in our kids’ future.”

alim@vicnews.com

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