Graduation seeks new location
Seventy-seven students graduated from Baldwin High School last year, and the junior high gymnasium was packed for the commencement ceremony. The class of 2001 stands to graduate 116 on May 19, prompting district officials to consider changing the location of graduation.
But to where? That question is yet to be answered. School board members discussed the change at Monday's meeting, and have decided to include students and parents in the decision. The board will seek that input at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, in the BHS cafeteria. Students will be placing their order for graduation invitations from 5 to 7 p.m. at the high school.
"This affects a lot of people and we want to do it the right way," said board president Ed Schulte.
An outdoor ceremony at Baker University's Liston Stadium was the most discussed option by board members and a few parents attending the meeting. However, an alternative location in the event of rain brought the issue back to the original problem not enough seating for family members.
"It would be tough to say you can come, but you can't really go to graduation," said Peg Wessel about the relatives who plan to attend her daughter Kristen's graduation. "It is a big moment for families. I think the class would be happy to start a new tradition so they could have their family attend."
Abandoning the tradition of faculty and students filing into the junior high gymnasium was met with some sadness, but the need for more space was considered more important.
"It has been both packed and pretty unpleasant the past couple of years," Schulte said of the gym, which is not air conditioned.
Other options for graduation included Collins Center at Baker University or a location at the University of Kansas. It was not known if any of the alternate locations were available. The junior high was also considered, with additional seating available in the auditorium, where the ceremony could be watched on a big screen TV
Supt. James White said any indoor location in Baldwin would likely mean limiting attendance.
"There are a lot of things to consider," White said.
Parents also suggested holding graduation earlier in the day. Last year's ceremony was held in the evening to accommodate a student participating in the state tennis tournament the same day. State tennis is once again scheduled the same day as graduation.
White said he would check into available alternatives and costs of using another facility before the Oct. 19 meeting.