Graduation location surrounded by debate
By Garrett Mueller, Business Editor
Rumors have been circulating throughout the senior class that the class of 2019 will have their ceremony in the gym. The speculations have left many students upset and confused.
Last year, due to the construction of the new track and field, graduation was held in the gym. This led to the general community being shut out of the ceremony because each student was limited to 10 tickets.
“Graduating in the gym obviously wasn’t the ideal situation, [but] when I think about how little we were affected by the construction and how great the new field is, I believe that going through graduation in the gym was a fairly easy sacrifice to make,” 2018 VHS alumna Sam Knight said. “While the gym circumstances may have not been ideal, that didn’t change the day for any of us.”
The senior class began speculating about the location of their graduation in December. Some believed that district policy, stemming from fear of damaging the new turf, would not allow chairs on the field. However, no official policies are currently in place to dictate this rule.
A gym graduation is generally seen as an undesirable choice by the student body.
“[It will be] very crowded,” senior Sarah Cooper said. “There [are] limited tickets, and it would be nice to show off the new field.”
Teachers and staff have also expressed their reluctance in attending another gym graduation.
“Graduation outside in the rain is still better than graduation inside the gym,” principal Danny Rock said.
However, the final decision remains undecided as the district continues to debate new field policies.
“The district field rules [and] guidance are still under consideration since these are all new decisions and opportunities,” superintendent Slade McSheehy said.
Once a decision has been reached relating to the turf policy, it will be communicated to the student body. Still, it’s possible that the field policies may not provide the final say in the matter.
“There are solutions to that problem,” Rock said. “Everything from not putting chairs on the turf at all to laying down plywood for the stage.”
If the district deems the field unusable, Rock said that the high school gym surpasses other options on the island. According to him, McMurray field does not offer a sufficient audience viewing arrangement, and the O-Space is smaller than the gym. The only other plausible option is to hold graduation off-island, but many members of the Vashon community believe the ceremony should be an event for local residents and graduates’ families.
“[Graduation] is the biggest all-community event, as far as gross numbers, on the island,” teacher Jason Butler said. “Alumni come back in droves.”
Members of the faculty and student body remain hopeful for an outdoor ceremony and plan to work around whatever restrictions may arise.
“It’s not possible to do [graduation] the way we’ve done it in the past.” Rock said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to do it outside, [and] it doesn’t deter me.”