As yet another school year comes to a close, many graduating students are in a frenzy to collect – or create – the last few memories of their high school experience. However, missing from this array of memories is a graduation trip.

While those in the TOPS program travel to a different American city each year for their grad trip, a trip has yet to be held for the rest of the graduating class. A grad trip is unlike any other graduation ritual in that it consists of leaving the beloved (but familiar) GTA and discovering unknown territory. It allows us to go on a last adventure as high school students before entering the world as newly inaugurated adults. The reason behind why we are deprived of this final getaway with our friends and peers is a question many wonder and ask, yet very few know the answer.

After contacting students who were involved in planning a possible graduation trip this year, we discovered the many problems that come with a grade-wide excursion and, with it, the possible solutions.

Lydia Gouveia, this year’s Social Convenor, who worked hand-in-hand with Gloria Zhou, Grad Convenor, graciously explained to The Reckoner the challenges they had faced while planning a trip to Montreal for their grade.

To put it simply, the main issue behind planning any grad trip is lack of participation. When these graduation trips are first proposed to the student body, many claim they are interested. Yet when the time comes to put in a deposit, all the supporters suddenly disappear. Why? This is due to one major reason: money. It makes sense: money is always a huge problem for any student in their senior year. The expenses in Grade 12 are massive, including, but definitely not limited to, social events like semi-formal and prom, graduation photos, and, of course, post-secondary school applications. With all these necessary costs to cover, it is reasonable for students to not feel eager to splurge on a graduation trip. Therefore, many sacrifice the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Another important reason why students are hesitant to partake in a grad trip is because the plan and itinerary must be strictly structured and organized.  For many, the idea of having to follow an agenda full of activities is unappealing; instead, they would much rather be given free time to do whatever they like, whenever they like, as teenagers so often do.

Along with all of the aforementioned problems, Lydia and Gloria were also faced with the challenge of Montreal’s drinking age of 18, which did not sit well with administration. Ultimately, the combination of these hurdles rendered their efforts – hours of researching and planning – fruitless. “If anyone in the next senior year wants to attempt to plan a grad trip, good luck to them,” wishes Lydia.

What many do not realize is that if we were to commit to the idea of a grad trip instead of thinking of it as a faraway possibility, we might actually receive one. Having this optimistic outlook would itself lead to more productivity within the student body. We propose that planning for a grad trip should start as soon as possible. Brainstorm ideas. Research. Assemble (and maintain) a group of supporters. Talk to peers and listen to their feedback. Talk to administration and take their worries into consideration. Start asking teachers if they would be willing to volunteer as supervisors beforehand. Take grade-wide polls – abundantly and frequently. Host fundraising events in the school and community starting as early as September or even throughout the summer break in order to minimize the cost issue. Next thing we know, a busload – or more – of graduating students will be on their way to creating some long-lasting memories, and the tradition will continue on for generations to come.

All this being said, there may still be hope for the Class of 2016 and even more so for the years that follow. Many students have already begun brainstorming ideas for next year, with options like camping at Algonquin Park at the top of the list. The next big step is for students to take definitive action, as previously recommended. It is also important for those interested in becoming involved to know that anyone can participate in the planning of the trip itself, so long as administration approves.

High school is known for its many adversities, with few known highpoints – one of them being graduation. Therefore, we should grab any opportunity we can, including a grad trip, before moving on to an entirely different journey.