By Terry Rogers
On Monday, September 18, Dr. Bridget Amory reported to the Milford School District Board of Education that there had been a request from members of the community that the Board reconsider the date they chose for Milford High School graduation. The date is currently set for May 31, 2018.
“We were approached by grandparents in the district who learned that our graduation has been scheduled the same night as Sussex Tech’s,” Dr. Amory reported. “They were in conflict because they have grandchildren who will graduate from each school and they asked that we discuss options that would eliminate this conflict.”
Dr. Kevin Dickerson, Superintendent, said that there had been conflicts with Sussex Tech in the past and that graduation is determined based on required student hours. Milford’s graduation was scheduled later this year due to the later start of the school year. This year, school began the day after Labor Day while in previous years, school began a few days prior to the holiday.
“No matter where you move graduation, you will have a conflict,” Board member Yvette Dennehy said. “It is possible we could have grandparents in this district who have grandchildren who attend Caesar Rodney or Lake Forest or any other district, not just one of the tech schools.”
Board member Ron Evans said that a review of the calendar indicated that the only date without a graduation for surrounding schools was Monday, June 4. He said that Monday did not seem like a good night for a high school graduation. Shawn Snyder, Principal of Milford High School said that holding graduation on Monday was not possible as the school needed three consecutive practice days with the students and that would not be possible if graduation was on Monday.
A review of the past few years found that Milford and Sussex Tech have held graduations on the same evening in three of the past four years with last year being the only exception. Dr. Dickerson said that moving graduation to the following Thursday would put the district in conflict with Polytech which could lead to different grandparents conflicted about which ceremony to attend.
“We need to keep in mind what is best for our students,” Dr. Dickerson said. “If we change to a different day than Thursday or move earlier in the week, that may not be the best option for our families.” Dr. Dickerson said he had reached out to Sussex Tech but had not received a response from them at the time of the board meeting.
Dr. Amory reminded the board that the graduation date was included in the district calendar which had been approved by the Board. The official calendar took into consideration student hours, especially those required for seniors. She explained that graduation cannot be adjusted significantly due to hour requirements and that the Board needed to remember that there was no way to know what weather would be like during the winter months.
“I know that a lot of people have family who come in from out of town on Thursday for graduation and then stay for celebrations over the weekend,” Mr. Evans said. “A lot of those families have probably already made plans for those celebrations and for out-of-town guests.” Ms. Dennehy suggested leaving the date the same as it would be too difficult to change it. Board member Judy Purcell said that since members of the community had come forward with concerns the Board should at least look at what could be done.
Dr. Dickerson said that he would reach out to Sussex Tech again and also look at other options to bring to the Board at the October meeting. The Board suggested getting public input to determine what they should do as well. Dr. Dickerson said that although he would bring suggestions to the meeting, there was not much time to make any changes. The Board agreed to make the decision at the October meeting.
Anyone who wishes to express opinions on Milford’s graduation date can contact Dr. Dickerson at 302-422-1600. The public is also welcome to attend and express their opinions at the next School Board meeting on October 16 at 6 PM. The Board adjourns into Executive Session at 6 PM with the official meeting opening at 7 PM. All Board Meetings are held at Milford Central Academy.
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