REVEALED: The plan for Year 12 formals at Gympie schools
IN YET another cruel setback brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, Gympie families with kids in their final year of high school will not be able to enjoy watching their loved ones’ school formals in a regular setting.
Social distancing protocols expected to be enforced until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes readily available will make at least this year’s ceremonies look a whole lot different than they otherwise would have.
Heartbreaking as it is, Gympie’s five high schools are still working tirelessly to make sure their senior cohorts and their families still get to enjoy their special night.
Here’s where each of our high schools are at with their planning:
GYMPIE STATE HIGH SCHOOL
2020 Year 12 cohort size: 100
Statement from Principal Anthony Lanskey:
“We’re going to be hosting the formal at Gympie High in Hamilton Hall. There will be limited access to adults outside.
“We will have very structured arrivals set up, and we’re planning, weather permitting, that it will take place on our school oval. We’ll be able to space parents out so they can see their kids arrive, and then we’ll move inside to proceed with the formal.
“In terms of adults, we will be utilising outdoor venues in order to have them participate but the evening itself will be kids only.
“Arrival times will be very structured. We’re looking at it occurring on the school oval, we have a large embankment where we can spread the parents out, and because it is outdoors there are increased numbers as a result.
“People will have to register and receive a wristband to access the site. For anyone who does come on site we will need to keep a register of their name and address in terms of COVID-19 tracking protocols.
“In order to comply with the COVIDSafe arrangements, we need to sadly exclude parents from Hamilton Hall. But we would like them to participate externally through arrivals and that small pre-commencement of the formal.”
“Our thinking here is that we have an obligation to try and provide some memories for these kids who’ve had their final year of schooling dominated by COVID-19. We need to be doing something that’s memorable. In terms of graduation, there will also be limited numbers and our awards evenings will be hosted during the day, unfortunately without parent access.
“We’re trying to look at a way of only having Year 12 parents here because it’s their final year, but once again that’s strictly governed by the COVID-19 regulations and a cap on numbers.
“It’s not a big cohort this year, which is a small luxury in this situation I suppose.”
2020 Year 12 cohort size: 34
Statement from Principal Brett Costin:
“We’ll obviously be looking at social distancing and arrival times for students and social distancing among the families.
“We’ve written to our local member Tony Perrett about the restrictions on dance at the formal, it’s a traditional sort of thing that’s happened.
“We understand encouraging no dance within the community, but in the formal where students have been in close contact and played rugby together, we would ask if they could make an exemption for formals and the Year 12s who have already had so much taken away from them this year.
“At there’s no dance … but the formal won’t be until November so there’s still a bit of time left to play.
“At this stage we would have immediate family. We’ve got the formal held at the Pavilion so we should be able to have seating and tables separated and social distancing for that crowd.
“We should be able to do the metreage and all that sort of stuff. Obviously we have to work it out according to the metreage and the government requirements of what that would mean, and our enter and exit strategies are the biggest challenges we’re trying to work through at the moment.
“We’re looking to go ahead and we’re still looking to encourage parents to enjoy this moment, because we need some moments that are normal.
“We have to abide by health directives, we’re trying to make it as normal as possible for the students while within the guidelines. That’s all we can do, unfortunately.”
COOLOOLA CHRISTIAN COLLEGE
2020 Year 12 cohort size: 26
Statement from Principal Trevor Norman:
“There will certainly be differences this year and we are holding out on making many of those decisions as the national and local response to COVID seems to be changing regularly.
“At this stage, our plans are to go ahead with the formal mid-November. We will have to limit the number of people who can attend (formal will be on school property) so our students may be limited to up to four guests only.
“We will make sure that we are following all COVID precautions; we have discussed this with the students, staff, caterers etc.
“We are still considering the best option for arrivals so that we maintain appropriate COVID precautions, it won’t look like previous years.”
JAMES NASH STATE HIGH SCHOOL
2020 Year 12 formal date: Wednesday, November 18
From a letter sent by the school to parents and caregivers:
“The formal will be held on 18 November from 5pm on the school grounds. Parents will not be able to attend the dinner component or enter the school grounds, but will be able to watch arrivals in the Administration carpark area from outside the grounds.
“Maps and site-plans will be available for students and parents closer to the event to show drop off zones for arrivals. Security will be on-site to manage crowds.
“While this is an enormous change from years prior, the Formal Committee and broader Year 12 cohort have been consulted during the planning process and students are accepting of these necessary changes.
“A dedicated team of photographers will video and photograph the evening so there will be plenty of memories available as keepsakes for parents.
“While we understand our school community may find these changes disappointing, our focus is to ensure our exceptional students are not robbed of the opportunity to be recognised, celebrated and appropriately farewelled by our school community.”
ST PATRICK’S COLLEGE
The school has been contacted for comment.