Merced Students Fight to Keep Tradition Alive

January 27, 2009 7:50:10 PM PST
A commencement controversy at Merced High School came to an end Tuesday with the decision seniors and their parents had been wanting.Merced High School has held its graduation at Merced College since 1977, and also plays home football games there. But last week seniors learned they would have to have a much smaller ceremony here on their own campus. Students and their parents spoke out against the plan, and they got some good news.

These Merced High Seniors learned just before lunch that they will graduate at Merced College, instead of having a smaller commencement on their own campus.

"Ten minutes ago they announced that we're going to graduate at Merced College and we're really, really happy because we were going to be really disappointed if we graduate right back here where there's no space," said Wendy Carpio.

Just hours earlier, some seniors were planning a walk-out to protest the change of venue.

"Text messages have been going around saying there's a walk out today, everyone walk out. Seniors take a stand for what we want," said Ashley Ramirez.

The situation started last Wednesday when administrators announced graduation would be held on the high school practice field in order to save money. Seniors also learned they would only be allowed three tickets, which didn't sit well with some parents.

"We have grandparents that we had to call up and say hey, sorry you can't see your grandson graduate this year," said David Lindman.

School district officials tell Action News they decided to switch back to Merced College based in part on those concerns, but mostly because lighting will not be installed at the high school field in time for this year's ceremony. However, it may still be an option for future commencements.

David Lindman, who has a senior son and a junior daughter, says he'll embrace the change next year if necessary ... but hopes there's a way to make room for more family members.

"Hopefully we won't have to go through this next year, but if we do, if we get enough time that would be great so we can work things out," said Lindman.

Parents and seniors say they've offered to hold fundraisers to help pay for the graduation ceremony.

District officials say the price for Merced College has not gone up, but they were looking for ways to cut spending because of budget concerns.

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