School Board nixes graduation proposal

A motion to move Yukon High School’s commencement exercises to the high school football field was voted down at a recent meeting of the Yukon School Board.

Graduation is currently scheduled for the traditional day of Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in the Oklahoma State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City.

After a lengthy discussion during the board meeting, the motion was defeated in a 4-1 vote with Board Member Jeff Behymer casting the lone dissenting vote.

Yukon High School Principal Melissa Barlow and David Jewell, AP Government instructor and this year’s senior class sponsor, gave a presentation in favor of moving the graduation site before board officials debated the proposed plan and took the vote.

Barlow told board members holding ceremonies at the high school could have a potential cost avoidance of more than $7,500 in costs it takes to use the state fair arena and that “graduation could become a community attended event.”

She said having graduation ceremonies at Miller Field could allow fireworks and a more spectacular celebration after graduates receive their diplomas and the event draws to a close.

That the community would benefit by bringing more visitors to Yukon, which could help boost the city’s economy, was another reason for moving the venue to the high school along with students not having to rush back to school to board buses for Project Graduation.

Yukon School Superintendent Jason Simeroth said Barlow and Jewell brought the proposal to his leadership team in early September.

“We looked at it, had a couple of suggestions on how they could improve it and make it more feasible,” Simeroth said. “They worked on it and then brought it to board to put on the agenda.”

After the proposal was defeated by the school board, he said board members “did what they thought was right.”

“They voted on the information they had and that’s their job,” Simeroth said.

Several on the board believe the change could be disastrous if the weather came into play.

“My experience with having graduation on the football field is the possibility of inclement weather,” said Board Member Leonard Wells.

School Board President Karen Youngblood cited past experience for not changing the location of commencement exercises from its present location at the state fair arena.

In eight years as a board member of YPS, she said one graduation was canceled due to inclement weather and had to be rescheduled.

“Another time we were instructed to ‘go as fast as you can’ because there’s weather coming in and you’ve got to get in and get it done,” Youngblood said, “and in two others we had sprinkles or outright rain.”

1 Comment

  1. Hailee Thompson on October 12, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I attended the school board meeting hoping that the board would vote yes. However, shockingly enough, the idea was denied. I felt as if the board didnt hear the opinions of any of the students that were actually graduating. As the senior class president, I thought it was important to see what the students and even faculty was wanting. Of course many of us are worried about the weather, but the majority of us believe that the contingency plans set in place are sufficient. Not only would our district and local businesses benefit from this, but the students would as well. Graduating at the High School Stadium would feel like home. It’s a place where many of us have developed our memories. Whether it’s our band, our athletes, or the students cheering in the student section, this is where we find our pride and where we want to celebrate our achievements.

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