An ad hoc parents committee seeking a modified outdoor graduation ceremony will have to do it without the involvement of Bow Valley High School.

At a Thursday meeting, the group was informed the high school nor Rocky View Schools can participate due to liability concerns. The decision didn't surprise the committee.

Founded by Kristen Holt, the group of parents continues to jump hurdles to hold an outdoor graduation ceremony that follows health ordinance.

Ideally, they would like to hold the ceremony before the virtual graduation ceremony, scheduled for June 29.

The ad hoc committee would prefer to see the traditional speeches and addresses to remain solely part of the school's virtual ceremony so it can be enjoyed by all graduates simultaneously.

"Ours would mostly be the moment of them crossing the stage, getting their diploma, turning their tassel, and having a few friends of families there to celebrate that milestone moment with them," explains Lori Blough, of the committee.

While the plan continues to be fine-tuned, it would see the 157 graduates broken into small groups, who would be joined by family members and a few friends to celebrate the milestone.

Given the size of the class, it would likely be held in segments over several days.

Currently, the committee is attempting to have an exception made by the town to secure a permit to hold the event at Mitford Park. The town is not considering any permits until July 2 at this point. 

It was Blough who launched the online petition asking for Bow Valley High School and the Rocky View School Division to allow plans to proceed for an outdoor graduation ceremony that complies with government safety directives.

She says it was only a small piece of what has been worked on in the background for some time by Kristen Holt.

"I ride on her coattails," says Blough. "I did the petition as a help for her, but she’s the founder, and she continues to organize so many resources for us."

On May 17, the petition garnered 107 signatures. At this writing, it now numbers 204.

She says the response demonstrates the support and desire for the ceremony.

"Many of them were the actual graduates themselves. So I think it speaks volumes to this being something they’re hoping for. As their parents, we want to do everything we can to give that to them."

Alberta Education has cancelled traditional high school graduation ceremonies provincewide.