Dance lessons for New Westminster’s long-standing May Day will happen after school

Preparations for this year’s May Day celebration are moving ahead, but not without a few changes to the 149-year-old tradition.

This year, participation in the folk dance and May Pole dance will be considered an extracurricular activity, with all instruction taking place outside of school hours, according to superintendent Karim Hachlaf.

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“The time taken over the six weeks after spring break leading up to May Day has proved to present itself with a number of challenges,” he told trustees at a school board meeting this week.

Challenges have multiplied since the restoration of class size and composition language to teachers’ contracts, according to Hachlaf, and with smaller classes and more split classes, it’s become increasingly difficult to coordinate dance instruction during the school day.

This year, Grade 3 and 4 students who want to take part in the May Day dances will practice their routines twice a week after school. The instruction will take place from 3 to 4 p.m.

“It will run right after school so we don’t present any challenges around child care or supervision, and the principals on site will be seeking volunteer support,” Hachlaf said.

The changes come less than a year after Hachlaf presented the previous school board with a report following last year’s May Day event. In the report, he said the total costs of putting on the event, including Royal Suite expenses, staff hours, transportation and more, came to $26,690.

It was in this report that Hachlaf also recommended that the dance lessons for Grade 3 and 4 students for future May Day events take place outside of school hours while the Queen’s Park Stadium event and school assemblies remain unchanged.

“There is tremendous support from staff and the community on the continuation of May Day, so we will be soliciting that support. Staff support to help with the dance instruction at schools, and we certainly are open to community support to help with that instruction, in fact, we welcome it,” he said. “We want to continue that work together.”

This year's May Day is happening Wednesday, May 22 at Queen's Park Stadium. 

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