School Board Votes To Move 2016 Graduation Back To High School

Richard Seamon

Board of Education member Richard Seamon said he had concerns over the logistics of having graduation at the high school.

The Franklin High School Class of 2016 will graduate this June at the high school.

With one dissenting vote, the Board of Education Feb. 25 voted to move the graduation ceremony from Sun National Bank Center in Trenton to Warrior Stadium or, in the case of bad weather, the FHS gym.

Board member Richard Seamon cast the lone “no” vote.

The idea to move graduation to the high school was broached last month by interim high school principal Thomas DiGanci. DiGanci said he was initially asked to look into the prospect of having graduation at the high school by former interim schools Superintendent Lee Seitz, but the issue became more urgent when the district was given a late slot – 7 p.m. – at the Trenton arena for this year’s ceremony.

The concern with that time slot was that graduation would not be over until 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m., which might cut into attendance at the high school’s Project Graduation celebration held later in the evening.

A number of students showed up at the board’s January meeting to try to convince the board to not move the ceremony from the Sun National Bank Center. Most were concerned that all of the members of their large families would not be able to see them graduate in the high school.

Proponents of the idea argued that students should celebrate the milestone of graduating from high school in the high school. They said the cost – $12,000 – would be about the same as going to Trenton, but without the hassle.

Opponents – most notably Seamon – said the high school facility wouldn’t be able to handle the expected large crowd, and that there would be other logistical problems.

“I don’t believe the facility has enough parking, and I don’t believe the facility has enough seating,” Seamon said at the Feb. 25 meeting.

Seamon said he was also concerned that the road system around the school was so small that it could take several hours to clear all the vehicles from the property.

“Also, I don’t think the cost has been fully vetted,” Seamon said.

The plan is to have the graduation in the football stadium if weather permits. If not, the ceremony would be held in the gym with overflow seating in various rooms throughout the school. The ceremony would be streamed into those rooms on large screens.

Either way, there will be no limit on the number of family members that graduates can bring to the graduation, said board president Ed Potosnak. He said that if the graduation is held indoors, there would be a limit of four tickets to enter the gym.

Board member Julia Presley said she was not happy that Sun National Bank Center scheduled the district so late, and that she supported moving the graduation ceremony to the high school on a trial basis.

“As long as this is an evaluation year and if it doesn’t work out, we can revert back,” she said.

Board member Christine Danielsen said that there was no guarantee that the graduation at the high school would not “go off without any hitches,” but, she said, that could be said wherever the venue is.

“Extensive planning has taken place and will continue to take place,” she said. “Everybody’s questions will be answered and we will do the best we can.”

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