Weston Warhorse

Graduation 2018: The Tent-ative Decision

Weston+High+School%E2%80%99s+Class+of+2017+graduated+under+the+tent.%0APhoto+Courtesy+of+Brian+Haefelle
Weston High School’s Class of 2017 graduated under the tent.
Photo Courtesy of Brian Haefelle

Weston High School’s Class of 2017 graduated under the tent. Photo Courtesy of Brian Haefelle

Weston High School’s Class of 2017 graduated under the tent. Photo Courtesy of Brian Haefelle

Ashley Aron, Editor-in-chief

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Many have been debating the decision by administration to hold the 2018 graduation in the new gym instead of under a tent like they had been for the past few years. A student petition against holding the graduation in the new gym was started and has gained over 500 signatures prompting letters to students from Superintendent William McKersie and Principal Lisa Deorio. Why are students so divided on this issue and what led administration to make this decision?
In a letter to students in January, Principal Lisa Deorio said that planning for the 2018 graduation begins in February. Her letter said that the administration is leaning toward holding the graduation in the new gym because of the availability of air conditioning, but the administration “may consider other possible venues, including the football field.”
Many students were shocked at the news of the decision, which was relayed to them through student government, not the administration.
James Joyce ‘18, student government president, says student government was “notified about the graduation situation in a meeting between senior student government members and the administration.” He also says that he was also surprised when he heard the decision, but “understood how budget cuts led them to forego the tent.”
“It had seemed to come out so sudden,” says Adam Frederiksen ‘18. “I think the lack of communication with students and parents prior to the decision caused such a large backlash.”
Ms. Deorio says that renting the tent costs between $21,000 and $24,000, and “these funds are earmarked for removal from the current budget (2017-18) as part of a series of reductions driven by a major shortfall of $1.4 million in the Special Education area.”
“It’s disappointing that financial issues in Hartford are causing budget cuts such as these,” says Frederiksen.
“After I learned that it was because of budget cuts, I continued to be confused because I’d never expected Weston, a town I’ve always considered to be wealthy, to have to prioritize expenses, especially for the school,” says Catrin Zharyy ’19.
“I understand why many seniors feel passionate about having their graduation outside. After all, they’ve worked hard for four years and have probably imagined themselves going through their emotional graduation in the same beautiful setting as the past graduations they’ve seen,” Zharyy adds.
“I would prefer the graduation to be outdoors because it carries more aesthetic and lets us enjoy the fresh air. While the gym is waterproof and has air conditioning, it’s not as exciting as it would be outside,” says Frederiksen.
While some students prefer and outside graduation, others recognize the benefits to having graduation indoors. “There’s no guarantee that the weather will be nice if we have an outdoor graduation, so being in the gym will make the experience much more comfortable,” says Sara Eiler ’18.
“Having it indoors would be breaking from tradition, but will offer the benefit of air conditioning. Having it outdoors would be more picturesque, but there is the problem of seat availability and the temperature,” says Lubliner. “We also have to keep in mind that we usually share the tent with the middle school for their graduation, so they would also be affected.”
Ms. Deorio says there’s another advantage to an indoor graduation. “Any graduation outside has a cost associated with its set up and security before the event. If the gym is used, we can lock it–no security before,” she says.
At the end of the day, everyone recognizes that graduating is the more important than where it occurs. “I really don’t care where the graduation is, as long as I get my diploma in the end. It makes absolutely no sense to waste so much money on something that we only use for a few hours when those funds can easily go to something more meaningful, like new school supplies or renovations,” says Eiler.
“The emotion of it all will be the most significant part. All the graduates and their families and friends will be so proud of them and excited for their futures that the setting of the ceremony won’t really matter. For nice photos, families should still use the fields outside, and the artists of the school can work on a beautiful background for the back of the gym in front of which graduates will be getting their diplomas,” says Zharyy.
“If graduation ends up being in the gym, it’s still going to be very well put together and festive,” insists Joyce. “The administration has been very receptive of our ideas for making graduation the best it can be,”
“I would like to see some interesting decor that would liven up the gym,” says Frederiksen.
Lubliner says that the school should “bring in flowers to spruce up the place. They could also do something to make the bleachers more comfortable. Graduation takes a while and the bleachers don’t get any more comfortable the longer you sit on them, so if the bleacher seats were cushioned it would help.”
“We do an excellent job of decorating the school during spirit weeks, so I think we could also be great at decorating the gym,” says Zharyy. “We could use streamers and use many balloons and flowers as decorations.”
With regards to possible student-funding for a graduation tent, Deorio says that “the idea of students spending the efforts fundraising for this is not something I would support. The last semester of your senior year shouldn’t be focused on this!” She says that “graduation will be beautiful, inside or on the football field!”
Eiler agrees. “You only get one high school graduation, and if you choose to spend it being bitter over a tent, then that’s your choice,”
“I know that the end result is going to be something that we all can be proud of and enjoy,” concludes Joyce.

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Ashley Aron, Editor-in-Chief

Ashley Aron is a Senior. She currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Warhorse.

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