Belmont secondary students volunteer their time planting pansies at the sign at City Centre Park. With guidance from Langford Parks and Recreation

Showing their grad-itude

Annual exchange trades Belmont students’ labour for dry grad funds

Belmont students are digging themselves a hole.

On their hands and knees, about 20 Grade 11 and 12 students rake, dig and laugh along the Langford Parkway, planting yellow pansies into the soil surrounding a large City Centre Park sign.

Langford’s park planner Jane Waters said the volunteerism is a partnership with the school that sees the city donate $10,000 to Belmont’s annual dry grad prom.

“I’m always thrilled when they come out. It’s one of my favourite parts of my job,” she said. “I have a high school daughter myself. I think volunteerism is a really good way of kids for get beyond thinking about just their world, and that it’s a great thing to give back to their community.”

Past collaborations have included building a rain garden at Glen Lake beach and planting a palm tree at the Leigh Road interchange.

“Mayor and council are just so thrilled that they come out, and with planting they are learning to be stewards of the land and help the city look better in their beautification projects,” Waters said. “Funding is really tight in the school districts and everywhere in all levels of government, but you know … the students have completed 12 years and the city likes to support that kind of thing in the youth of Langford.”

Belmont principal Ray Miller said it is a privilege to be able to give back to the community in a small way. He said the City’s generous annual donation is not lost on the students who get their hands dirty.

“This is the very least we can do in giving back,” he said. “Without it I don’t think we can have Safe Grad. We are here today as a small token of our appreciation and gratitude for the City of Langford’s generous donation every year.”

Much of the money will go towards activities and elements that keep the graduating students at Eagle Ridge Community Centre late into the night, away from activities that have proven dangerous or unhealthy in the past, Miller said.

“It’s culture shifting. I work intimately with 50 parents who donate hundreds of hours of time. The community donates and contributes lots of resources to change the culture of prom. It’s the expected norm that we pull together and keep our kids safe.”

Grade 11 student Caleigh Dupuis is not graduating this year, but said she sees the importance of dry grad. She was on hand planting to support the class of 2015 and looks forward to her chance next year.

“It’s a big thing and everyone supports it and loves it,” she said. “It’s amazing what the City of Langford does for us and how they donate such an amazing amount of money to help with keeping us safe.

“It shows that we are all connected and it’s like we are a big family.”

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