By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — After a fervent public backlash against the previously approved 2017 graduation date for Marshfield High School (MHS), the Marshfield School Board has changed when the ceremony will be held. The new date for graduation is Saturday, May 27, 2017.
According to March 1 meeting minutes of the school board’s employee relations committee, the district had sent out a survey to parents of students in grades seven-11, and results indicated that the “least desired date” was Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Subsequently, the board approved June 3, 2017, as the date for graduation day.
“We had, had some feedback that it was important for a number of our staff and our families that Memorial Day weekend was a prime time when people liked to enjoy a three-day weekend,” School Board President Marlene Stueland said at an April 13 board meeting.
However, following approval of the June 3 ceremony, Emily Critelli, an incoming senior at MHS, wrote a letter to local media stating her discontent with the chosen date. She noted that several athletic and extracurricular activities would occur the same weekend as graduation, causing seniors to choose to either miss graduation or another event that may be meaningful to them.
“Graduation is meant to recognize the achievements of seniors, but if many of them cannot attend their own graduation to receive their diploma, then how are family members, friends, and the school supposed to recognize them for their accomplishments?” Critelli wrote.
Social media lit up in response to Critelli’s letter. Most that commented on Hub City Times’ Facebook page supported her argument.
“What we had heard was, you know, our own staff would like to enjoy the full benefit of a longer weekend, and this (holding graduation Saturday, May 27) is the best that we could do for this particular event,” Stueland said. “This is the best compromise we could come up with.”
Stueland said the conflicts of interest pointed out by Critelli were not known by the employee relations committee when it initially approved the 2016-2017 calendar.
In future years, Stueland noted, a specific date for the graduation is “not written in policy when it will be held.”