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Seniors frustrated with graduation ceremony changes

Senior Austin Slining poses for a picture in his graduation cap. Photo by Martin Foster.

Graduation is a big deal; finally being done with high school, and getting to do something with your life and decide where you want to go from there can be very freeing.

This year at Bear River, some changes have been made for the graduation ceremony. For example, the seniors are no longer allowed to chose their walking partners, and they are no longer allowed to wear leis during the ceremony.

Principal Chris Roberts explained the reasoning behind the change in partner selection.

“After much thought, and consulting with the teachers and office staff, I made the decision to change the walking partners,” he explained. “There were many reasons behind the change. First, the program will run smoother, having the students in alphabetical order rather than with walking partners. Our goal every year with graduation is to make it as seamless as possible so that the students get the most out of it and that the program isn’t running too long. Year after year, students and parents alike complain that it’s too long. This will help with that issue.”

Many graduating seniors this year were upset by this decision.

“I think that it’s kind of unfair that he [Principal Roberts] listened to two or three parents out of the whole class,” said Senior Charlie Kirks. “I think this should have been more of a group decision than an impulsive decision. It’s been like that for many years, and I don’t believe he should able to switch that.”

Seniors Julia Halverson and Rochelle Kneemeyer agreed with Kirks.

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to walk with who we want to,” said Halverson. “It’s our graduation. Why won’t they let us walk with who we want to?”

“I think it’s stupid,” said Senior  Kneemeyer. “Why does it matter? We are never going to see these people again, so let us walk with our choice.”

Senior Matt Rodriguez felt as though the students’ opinions should have held more weight than the parents.

“A few parents complained, but it’s not their graduation – it’s ours, and they can suck it up, in my opinion,” said Matt Rodriguez, a senior. “I don’t think it should have been anyone else’s choice but the students.”

Principal Roberts gave more information on the decision.

“It will also, in the future and possibly for this graduation, allow us to actually put your diploma in your diploma holder instead of giving it to you after graduation,” he said. “Second, staff mentioned that it’s commonplace for a student to choose a walking partner (most often a boyfriend or girlfriend), and then, right before graduation, there’s a falling out, and now they don’t want to walk next to that person, or feel very awkward walking next to that person.”

Halverson commented on one of the reasons Principal Roberts listed.

“This is so dumb,” she said. “I have heard that one of the reasons that they changed it [is] so they could give us our diploma on stage, but they aren’t.”

Senior Isabella Christmon explained how she feels about these changes.

“Graduation is the last step into the next chapter of your life,” she said. “Coming into this school, I thought I was going to be able to walk with my best friend, and, this year, they changed it. It was kind of a surprise, and it kind of sucked, and it’s a little disappointing.”

Principal Roberts gave some final words of encouragement.

“Bear River is always attempting to be the beacon for the rest of the district and be ahead of the other schools when it comes to doing what’s best for students,” he said. “ … Other sites have mentioned similar concerns when it comes to walking partners, but have yet to make the change. We decided to make the change based on our site and what we feel is best for our students. … This decision, although, at face value, looks rough, was made with student success and happiness in mind. We care about our students!”

Personally, I really dislike this idea. This is our graduation, so this should be our choice. This won’t make it shorter; we already have the smallest class at the school. Graduation is going to be short to begin with, so why would they change the walking arrangements now? I think that this is the last time that we can walk and be with our friends, so they should let us walk with who we choose. After all, it’s our year.

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Seniors frustrated with graduation ceremony changes