A group of about 20-25 Two Harbors High School seniors filed into the regular school board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 8 to address the board regarding the 2020 graduation ceremony date.
The Lake Superior School District's calendar lists the graduation ceremony for Two Harbors High School at for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 11, the last day of school for the district. However, William Kelley High School's graduation is scheduled for 5 p.m., Thursday, June 4. Seniors aren't required to attend classes following the graduation ceremony at Kelley.
Six seniors read a portion of a prepared statement to the board raising their concerns with the graduation ceremony date. In May 2019, graduation was held on the same day for both schools.
"We’re here to respectfully ask if you’d consider changing the date of Two Harbors graduation to the same week and/or same day as William Kelley’s graduation," senior Emily Carlson said. "When the district has two high schools, we don’t understand why you’d require seniors at one school to go a week longer than the other school."
Logan Endicott, Karsen Holm and Jillian Hooper addressed some of the reasons students were told as explanation for the date differences, including allowing Kelley seniors to get out early so they can work summer jobs, specifically at Northshore Mining.
"But when we talked with the human resources department there, we were informed they would not start summer jobs until after the school is done for both schools in the district," Endicott said.
Holm countered the argument that seniors leaving early would be disruptive for the other students in mixed-grade classes.
"I can assure you this was far from the truth for me last year," Holm said. " Last year in my mixed grade biology class, we continued to work on our cat dissections. In my pre-calculus class, we continued the curriculum and learned more chapters in our textbooks to further our knowledge.
"In my opinion, students are far from disengaged."
Hooper noted that students from Denfeld and East high schools in Duluth have separate graduation dates, though research showed is mostly attributed to both schools using the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
Overall, senior Sam Johnson asked for the graduation to be returned to the same day as Kelley's graduation, or for a Sunday, June 7, ceremony to allow for the state track meet participants and traveling relatives to attend.
Following the statement, students filed back out of the room to a round of applause from staff and board members. Some students stopped to shake hands with board members.
The board discussed the issue further and decided to allow the administrative staff to determine a decision.
"I would support letting the school administrators decide what is best for their school environments," board member Traci Tiboni said.
The graduation date needs to be set by Oct. 30 to allow sufficient time for graduation announcements to be printed, so the board may schedule a special meeting to vote on any changes before that date.