By Leo Chiaet
At 7:30 pm, on Monday, October 12, the Board of Education decided to renounce a previous decision to move the 2016 graduation indoors. This decision came a week after hearing the outspoken opinions of parents and students who attended the public meeting on October 5. It was through the efforts of a few high school seniors and parents that allowed for the decision to have been possible.
At the beginning of the year students attended a grade level assembly, which served as a reminder of the school’s policy, as well as to introduce the new principal of James Caldwell High School, Mr. Jim Devlin. And at the senior assembly, one of the minor points that Mr. Devlin discussed was that the graduation would be planned indoors for this year because Bonnell field would be renovated as a turf field in that time.
This announcement brought on a groan from the room of seniors. It would mean that each graduating senior could only bring three family members to graduation. Additional family members would be subjected to resigning to the lunchroom to watch a live-feed of their child graduating because of the limited space of the auditorium.
Indoor graduations are nothing new. At times of problematic weather predictions the senior class has had to graduate indoors. But disrupting the chances of an outdoor graduation seemed to be premature and disconcerting to both parents and students.
As a result, Ms. Stacey Scott, concerned parent and activist, put her son up to the task of creating a petition. Through the efforts of activist seniors Austin Scott, Eloise Albaret, and Alec Tobin the petition amassed an impressive 160 signatures out of around 200 senior students.
And it was at the public conference meeting that Alec Tobin presented the petition to push back the schedule of the construction until after graduation to the receptive Paula Getty, President of the Board.
Alec Tobin commanded the board’s attention with earnest words: “Everyone here can remember their graduation, and it’s really important to us that our whole family is there when we graduate.”
This meeting, unlike most others, had a much greater presence of students as the first 2 rows consisted of 6 seniors. Parents were also a major presence at this meeting, advocating for moving the date of construction, or at least having an alternative venue for an outside graduation, such as at the lower baseball field or the Oval.
Ms. Paula Getty, the President of the Board of Education, requested that the discussion be revisited after all points regarding the subject were addressed so that she and the other members could explore other options. A week later, on October 12, the Board announced its decision to have graduation on the lower baseball field or on the finished turf field if the renovations were completed by then. In the end, graduation was salvaged by diligent parents and students, and by the attentive public servants of our community.