Pen-Hi Class of 2020

More than 700 people have signed an online petition calling for Penticton high schools’ graduation ceremonies to be postponed until such time as they can be held in a more traditional format.

“Even if that means we wait until next summer when everyone’s home from university,” said Melody Kroeker-Petersen, who launched the petition last weekend.

The 17-year-old Pen-Hi student said virtual ceremonies that are being discussed by school administrators simply won’t cut it because they will lack a sense of community.

“We (want to) have everyone who’s been supporting us for the last 13 years cheering us on and watch our friends cross the stage cheering them on,” said Kroeker-Petersen.

Her petition is aiming for 1,000 signatures, which she feels will give it sufficient credibility. (It had 742 as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday)

“We are trying to send it into the school board, so they can at least attempt to look at it and see how much it means to the grads that we get a normal ceremony sometime in the future,” said Kroeker-Petersen.

“I know that all the grads I’ve talked to are completely open to it – everyone.”

It doesn’t sound like the school board is, though.

“I like the fact that a petition was organized; it makes people understand how our current events are affecting our grads,” board chairman James Palanio said in an email Thursday.

“It also shows me that we have community-minded leaders amongst our grads, and that shows us our future, though seemingly a bit grim now, will be bright.”

However, continued Palanio, “in today’s world we are not allowed to provide an in-person event for all grads, thus a virtual event is our only safe and permissible option.

“This will ensure that grads can celebrate their achievement in a timely manner. Unfortunately, with our uncertain future, we still don’t know when we would be able to hold in-person events of this size.”

The petition can be found at here.