The Greenwich Board of Education made it official. Greenwich High School seniors will graduate on Friday, June 21, 2013.
The board voted on the date at their Feb. 21 Business Meeting at Julian Curtiss School approving the administration's recommendation of a GHS Graduation Date for the 2012-13 school year with a vote of 6-1. Board member Steve Anderson did not support the action and board member Peter von Braun was absent.
The Connectcut State Department of Education requires a graduation date after 180 days of classes, except if a district sets the calendar before the school year begins. Greenwich is taking advantage of this exception and is seeking to hold graduation for seniors on the 179th day of school.
With the recent snow day on Feb. 8, the 180th or last day of school for students including the graduated seniors, will be Monday, June 24. If there are any additional school closure days this year, the days will be made up by utilizing April break.
Board Chairman Leslie Moriarty said, "It is unfortunate that this year's severe storms impacted the school schedule such that we are holding graduation prior to the last official day; however the decision is respectful of graduating seniors and their families to allow them to fully celebrate this significant milestone. I have confidence that the high school administration will provide appropriate and engaging opportunities for our seniors."
"Responding to public demands for exceptions ..."
when exceptions really aren't needed, just sets up future problems," says Anderson. He did not support the establishment of the graduation date because he has not been happy with the approach to this year's school calendar challenges due to Hurricane Sandy. Anderson would have liked to see the board "reestablish a snow day cushion for the educational benefit of students," but instead he says, maintaining vacation time took priority.
In addition, Anderson says, "I see no need to set a precedent to formally establish a graduation date so early. This sets up next year's request to set a graduation date in February instead of waiting as we usually do until April." Also, predicts Anderson, if the board decides next February to wait until April, "people will be upset" and fall back on "you made the decision last February. Why not now?"
Rich And Rewarding
Superintendent William McKersie echoed Moriarty's perspective. "In the ideal world, one free of major storms and other natural events, we would not schedule graduation before full completion of the school year for graduating seniors. However, that is what the board has had to do this year. I am confident that Mr. Winters and the high school faculty will develop ways to make the final day of school, one now to celebrate earning a GHS diploma, rich and rewarding."
GHS Headmaster Chris Winters plans to fulfill McKersie's prediction. "We make every effort to provide a rich, educational experience for our students every day," said Winters. "When the seniors return the Monday after a Friday Graduation, we will do the same. I see a lot of opportunities for seniors to connect with teachers and each other, to review their final grades, and to bring closure to their high school experience."
Will Students Show Up Monday?
GHS student government representatives Brad Kim (senior class president) and Jonathan Mulhrad (student government president) offered their view of the post graduation school day.
Kim says that "it is most definitely a real day of school." However, the senior feels that "if all the curricula are completed to the teachers' satisfaction such that a final exam can be administered, it shouldn't be necessary for students to go an extra day." Kim believes that "Greenwich High School allots plenty of time for education to take place."
On the flip side, Mulhrad believes that there are "seniors who will be motivated to go to school on that day after graduation. The student body in general, 9-12th grade, use that day to go over their grades and exam scores with their teachers. But seniors specifically, for whom exam scores are usually no concern at all, use it as a day to see teachers they are close with and who they will most likely not see for quite some time."