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Charge for graduation an outrage

By Staff | May 23, 2014

Watching to news this week, I was amazed that a high school in Florida is now charging parents to come watch their children graduate from high school. In fact, the school plans to charge as much as $200 for “premium” seating. What a ridiculous way for a school to attempt to raise funds.

Topping it off, the graduation ceremony, for which the school says it needs the funds, is being held at the school, on the football field. Again, ridiculous.

But it does bring up a local point in that our schools here in Jefferson County pay a significant amount to use Shepherd University for graduation rather than using the high schools.

Coming from a school in Loudoun County where, way back then, we graduated at our school (Loudoun Valley, the only school, I believe to continue to hold the ceremony at the school rather than traveling to the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va.), on the football field.

I have spoken at various times in the past, especially the two different years I have had Jefferson High grads, with the superintendent about the need to use Shepherd. Personally, I think the venue is uncomfortable, unsafe for elderly and that it loses something at graduation not to be where you have completed your education. Ms. Wall explained the reasoning in that using a football field at the school has the potential for cancellation due to weather. She has said it is difficult to “monitor.” Should rain force the ceremony inside, it’s too logistically difficult.

To all of this, I say, too bad. Setting chairs up on the field for students and a make-shift stage involves a little work, yes; but, the graduates are at the place they have spent their last four years. The ceremony is a culmination of the completion of a journey and should be done in that same location.

For rain cancellations, there could be a plan to have the ceremony inside. Of course, then not so many people could attend. Instead of six or seven tickets per senior, there would have to be a limit to two or three. There could be an “overflow” area in the cafeteria of the high school with television monitors set up to watch the event in real time. With today’s technology, it wouldn’t be difficult.

I fear that with the continued cost of using the Butcher Center, and the precedent set now by this Florida high school, that it won’t be long before parents here are charged to watch their students complete their high school education. I honestly hope it doesn’t happen before my last two make it through!