If you’re dreading the thought of having to cram into a hot packed Whitley County Middle School Gym in late May or early June to see high school seniors graduate, or worse having to go into the middle school cafeteria to watch it on television because there isn’t enough room for everyone in the gym, then you are in luck.
Taking a cue from Whitley County High School seniors, who endorsed the plan with a 94.6 percent vote, the Whitley County Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to move 2019 graduation ceremonies to The Arena in Corbin.
“I’ve been going to Whitley County graduations for, I guess, eight years now and at every single one I feel like something worse and worse happens. Last year I know we had two ladies pass out,” senior class vice-president Thor Blankenship told the board during its regular monthly meeting. “It’s always a rush getting in there and a rush getting out and there’s not enough seats.”
Blankenship presented the board with a presentation that he made to the graduating class noting both the pros and cons of moving graduation.
The pros of staying at the middle school, included: tradition, a centralized location, no cost to the district, and the ability to move the graduation to any date needed.
The cons of staying at the middle school included: poor handicap accessibility, insufficient seating capacity, bleacher seating and overheating.
The pros of moving graduation to The Arena, included: 5,000 fixed seats, 3,600 parking spaces, better air-conditioning and better handicap accessibility.
The biggest cons of moving graduation to The Arena were the $2,500 price tag to rent the facility, and not being able to change the graduation date, as easily should something arise.
Superintendent John Siler added that over 200 people had to watch last year’s graduation ceremony from the cafeteria because there wasn’t sufficient space in the middle school gym.
“That’s never a good situation when you have family that shows up and they don’t get a seat in the gymnasium. That’s not ideal,” he noted.
Siler added that the school district would likely need to get at least two potential graduation dates.
“I am all for moving it,” noted Board Chair Brenda Hill, who made the motion to move graduation to The Arena.
“You just won your second election,” board attorney Tim Crawford told Blankenship after the board’s vote.
When Whitley County seniors walk through graduation this year, not only will they be in a new location, but also they will be sporting a new look cap and gown.
The new gown will have red trim around the end of the sleeves with Whitley written out below it in red letters with white trim. It will also sport pointed red stripes down the front with WCHS written on it.
WCHS Principal Dr. Bob Lawson said the gown is part of a branding effort being undertaken that will feature a common font and a common colonel emblem.
In addition, the board also discussed the 2019-2020-school calendar, which is likely to look significantly different from this year’s calendar that featured an Aug. 27 start date and no fall break.
Director of Pupil Personnel Patrick Bowlin noted that district officials are still in the process of compiling input about the school calendar but one thing that stands out so
far is that few people liked this school year’s late start date.
Because of the late start date; the high school lost 10 instructional days before the ACT test is given. In addition, high school instructors also lost another five days of instructional time this year when the ACT test date was moved up five days.
Bowlin said the early consensus is to move the start date back to early or mid-August with at least two days of fall break and a full Christmas break.
In other business, the board:
- Award security guard E.J. Miller with the Above and Beyond Award.
- Recognized nine students for receiving Automotive Service Excellence certifications, including: Schuyler Anderson, Justin Baker, Aaron Canada, Colton Cox, Jayden Curry, Kenneth Henderson, Jim Lowe, Dalton Wilson and Austyn Wynn.
- Heard a presentation from the Whitley County Culinary Arts Team, including a sample version of food, which will be cooked for an upcoming competition. Culinary arts team instructor Veronica Carmical did the presentation, and students Aaron Blake Cupp, Karla Sunshine Clouse and Stephen Curnutt provided the cooking. The sample meal included beef tenderloin kebobs with maple coriander ketchup, chipotle mashed potatoes, and cappuccino mousse in chocolate cups. The team also threw in some chocolate covered strawberries for board members Thursday.