This year, an 18-year-old tradition is coming to an end, and for the worst possible reason.
Students at Kentlake High School have to come to terms with the cancellation of two student exchange trips scheduled for this year – one was to Osaka, Japan, and the other was a band trip to Victoria, B.C. for the Victoria Day Parade.
This decision was made in light of the recent confusion about border control in the U.S., after which authorities are afraid that some students may not be able to return to the country if they are unable to provide adequate documentation.
Although immigration laws have not changed, students travelling to and from Canada have not had any issues in the past.
However, when school board member Russ Hanscom called the U.S. Customs office earlier this year, he was told that there was a high chance that students lacking proper documentation would be held at the border.
What makes it worse is that the students and their families were given the news about the cancellation of the trip to Victoria less than a month before it was supposed to take place, despite the fact that the actual decision was made in February.
“To be honest, it’s more than just a bit heartbreaking,” says sophomore Braden Ross. “We have put months into planning and fundraising, just to be told a few weeks before the trip that we can’t go. If we had been alerted earlier, maybe we could have come up with some kind of solution, or perhaps made plans to go to another event.”
One parent called a few other local schools and found out that most of them were not cancelling international trips for any similar reasons, and calls for the School Board to reconsider their decision.
Another student, junior Jordyn Mastroff, argues that in the past, the school has left behind students who could not pay for the trip to Victoria and that it would not be fair to them to adopt a policy of inclusiveness now.
“I do not want to know if someone is undocumented or not,” she said. “But their feelings should not influence the decision of letting 250 other students go that have been going to this for years,” she said.
Regardless of the reasons, everyone at the school seems to agree that the trip to Victoria is one of the main highlights of these students’ high school careers, and should not have been so unceremoniously cancelled.