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Sask. Grade 12s who lost grad in 2020 fear deja vu reality

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With ongoing job action by Saskatchewan teachers and no end in sight to a contract dispute with the provincial government, some high school students in the province are worried graduation ceremonies could be cancelled.

For students in Grade 12, it would mean a second lost graduation.

Four years ago, high school seniors Gabby Kaban, Zach Markusson and Kyle Conteh were all in Grade 8, facing very similar circumstances to the ones they’ve currently found themselves in because of the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding restrictions.

“Its scary because we didn’t get Grade 8 grad due to COVID, we also didn’t get our elementary school basketball finals because of the teachers stuff so just knowing this is happening again is still a problem, it’s just kinda sad,” Conteh said.

“Just being able to walk the stage, you only get to walk the stage once in your high school career so that’s definitely a nerve, but I feel like hopefully everything can work out and we’ll be able to do that,” Markusson added.

As the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) continues its battle with the provincial government, all extra curricular activities have been paused in schools across Saskatchewan heading into the Easter break, something that has greatly affected many highly involved students.

“Band, choir, music, sports, athletics like all of the extracurricular activities that go on impact all the students and so by taking those away, you’re taking away a big part of the high school experience,” Kaban said.

“Mentally, having a game and then not having a game it takes a toll on you because you build up all this hype just for it to be gone,” Conteh said.

As students, the trio also has seen first hand the issues which STF has been advocating for.

“We’re needing more teachers to come help us in the classroom. I remember even this past semester, the classes just got so large if you didn’t get there early enough to your class, you might not get a desk, you might have to stand at the back just because we had so many students,” Kaban recalled.

With only a few months left until the school year ends, the fear that they might experience a second cancelled graduation is a reality for students.

The STF and the provincial government have been stuck in a stalemate for months with no end in sight. The three students also had some advice to offer both sides. “I think that it’s important that everyone keep in their minds that its not this fight and argument, its really like, ‘how can we put ourselves together as adults to find the best solution to these problems so that our students can have the best opportunities,” Kaban said.

“Just to try to bring it back to the table and talk through it. And try to get both sides to agree to something so that we can have our grad,” Markusson added.

“Try to really listen to each other. I feel like they’re just so focused on what they have to say, they aren’t trying to see the full picture. They’re just trying to see what they’re putting across,” Conteh said.

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