For the 3,811, Grade 12s registered in the Greater Victoria and Saanich school districts, this time of year means finishing exams, modelling grad gowns, securing travel plans or registering for post-secondary education.
Inside Grad Central in downtown Victoria, salesclerk Joanne O’Connor has taken careful note of one of 2011’s “biggest” grad trends.
Dresses this year have more pouf than ever.
“We’re talking Belle of Beauty and the Beast,” O’Connor said. “Ten layers of tulle, the big pick-ups, Scarlett O’ Hara. Massive ball gowns.”
These dramatic dresses run between $500 and $600 and can come in 75 different colours, the hottest being deep blues and purples. “This year it is pouffy,” she added, noting the departure from last year’s flowing Grecian goddess look. “Everyone wants a pouf dress and that seems to be what we’ve sold a lot of this year – pouf, pouf and more pouf.”
By the time ceremonies are through and pouffy dresses are stowed in closets, the next educational journey is already in the works for the majority of students.
In 2008/09 half of all grads in Greater Victoria became Camosun College students. Thirty-six per cent of all grads in the region went to the University of Victoria, while 5.8 made the move to Vancouver to attend the University of British Columbia. Less than four per cent of remaining local grads attended Simon Fraser University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (1.8 and 1.2 per cent, respectively).
After education, travel is a high priority for grads, with the most popular destinations this year the same as in years passed. A month backpacking in Europe and six months or longer working in Australia or New Zealand are still the most-common travel plans for high school grads.
“The last 16 years I’ve been doing this, you’d probably get the same answer,” said Colleen Jackson, manager of Travel Cuts at UVic. She also leads workshops for young people planning to travel or work abroad for the first time. “Culturally, (Australia and New Zealand) aren’t quite as challenging, but they’re still quite different, just for having the experience of living overseas and a year in the southern hemisphere where you get a bit more sun.”
Who’s at UVic?
Top 10 direct-entry high schools in 2010
(by students registered in November)
• Oak Bay – 395
• Mount Douglas – 386
• Claremont – 279
• Belmont – 232
• Stelly’s – 213
• Lambrick Park – 186
• Reynolds – 154
• Frances Kelsey – 137
• Parkland – 121
• Spectrum – 118