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‘It's not fair’: Parent frustrated with limited BDHS prom capacity

'As far as we are aware, any Grade 12 student who wanted to attend was able to,' said school board official, noting 210 of 344 BDHS students in Grade 12 attended event

While some students were enjoying an evening inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, others could only dream of joining them.

Last Friday (May 26), Bradford District High School (BDHS) held their annual prom at The Club at Bond Head to provide graduating students with “an evening of laughter, music, fun and creating memories that will last a lifetime,” according to the school’s website.

However, some students were left with the memory of being excluded.

Because the venue can only hold 240 people, there were only 240 tickets available, despite BDHS having 344 students enrolled in Grade 12 — 104 more than there were tickets.

Several upset parents took to social media to express their disappointment over the lack of capacity, including Nicole Kim, who spoke to BradfordToday about her son not being able to attend.

After hearing tickets were on sale, “when we went to look for tickets within like four days, they were sold out, so it went really, really quickly,” said Kim.

Some parents may have missed the initial communication, though, as there were announcements, emails and an assembly held to inform students on April 11, and while tickets were on sale from April 24 to May 5, the school said initial uptake was slow.

“When tickets first went on sale, very few were signing up,” Sarah Kekewich, manager of communications for the Simcoe County District School Board, said. “Organizers were concerned at one point that ticket sales were low.”

At publication time, the board was unable to confirm if notification of ticket availability was sent directly to parents, or just to students.

While Kim acknowledged the school may have sent communications, she said she didn’t receive any, and expressed frustration and confusion about how and why the venue was selected, as she felt it had insufficient capacity.

“It’s a very, very small venue,” she said.

According to the board, the choice of venue came down to several reasons, including capacity, availability, proximity to the school, and affordability.

“We have a long-standing relationship with The Club at Bond Head. Our Prom has been held at the Club at Bond Head for the last 13 years on the same Friday every year,” Kekewich said. “In fact, The Club at Bond Head has honoured their per-person rate which has been consistent for several years.”

Still, some parents felt capacity remained an issue, which was only compounded by the presence of guests.

Kim said that not all of her friends managed to get their children tickets to the prom, but of those who did, most of their children were planning to bring a date, some from other schools.

“It’s like OK, then we can have an assumption that other kids are going to do that too. It’s not fair that they get to go to two proms and the kids that wanted to go couldn’t,” she said.

The board confirmed that of the 344 students in the graduating class, only 210 attended, with 30 tickets being used for prom dates — 26 from outside the school and four from younger grades within BDHS.

As a result, only 61 per cent of the graduating class attended their own prom.

The board said 15 students who were initially added to a wait list after ticket sales closed, were provided the opportunity to attend.

“All Grade 12 students were emailed multiple times about the existence of the waiting list and instructions on what to do to get placed on the list,” Kekewich said. “That waiting list was completely cleared of graduating students by May 19.”

The board also clarified that 100 per cent of students don’t ever attend prom as it’s not something every student wants to do.

“As far as we are aware, any Grade 12 student who wanted to attend was able to,” said Kekewich.

Kim said her son was later offered a ticket by a friend who had changed their mind about attending, but by then, it was too late.

“Now I can’t go get him an outfit and get him there, because I would have had to arrange that,” she said.

Kim doesn’t completely blame the school, though.

“It would have been nice to have actually received an email or to have received a letter home, but you know, I could have called the school myself,” she said. “By the time we figured it out, all the tickets were gone.”

Regarding whether or not the board would consider changes for future proms, the board said "When planning events such as prom, event organizers consider historic attendance and level of interest. They are continually assessing and reassessing these factors after each event. If there are larger graduating classes in the future, this would be taken into account when planning the event."

While BradfordToday reached out to several parents who left concerned comments on social media about the availability of BDHS prom tickets, only Kim was willing to go on the record.

If other parents would like to share their experience with this year’s BDHS prom, BradfordToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication).

Michael Owen

About the Author: Michael Owen

Michael Owen has worked in news since 2009 and most recently joined Village Media in 2023 as a general assignment reporter for BradfordToday
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