The Verona Board of Education announced at Tuesday night’s meeting that next year’s graduations for both Verona High School and H.B. Whitehorne Middle School will be held indoors at Caldwell College.
HBW’s 8th grade graduation will take place at Caldwell College’s Newman Center on the morning of June 21, with the VHS ceremony at the same venue that evening.
The BOE said weather and over-crowding at the graduation ceremonies prompted the change. At this past June’s graduation at HBW, about 100 people could not find seats inside the HBW gymnasium. The temperature on VHS’ Thomas J. Sellitto Field approached 100 degrees at the start of the evening processional there. The previous year, a late thunderstorm prompted a quick relocation of graduation to the sparsely air conditioned gym, with the overflow crowd in the auditorium. (A hole that may be an abandoned well opened on Sellitto Field last week, threatening Verona’s home football opener on September 22.)
The indoor capacity at VHS is 1,000. Verona Superintendent Steven A. Forte noted that the Newman Center has a seating capacity of 2,500 and a large parking lot next door. The Newman Center also has projection screens so that the ceremonies could include a slide show. Forte put the cost of holding graduation at Caldwell College at $1,700, which he said was about what it costs now in town.
But for Marie Hardenberg, the amenities did not outweigh the fact that her son, Michael Hardenberg, will not graduate in town next June. “It takes away the whole town spirit,” she told the Board. “I feel heartbroken.”
While I understand the logistics due to weather and crowds. I too will be a little disappointed that my daughter will not graduate at VHS field the same place that her older brother graduated in 2004 and also I graduated back in 1974…. Times Change!!
I think it’s a great idea. My son graduated this year and the Caldwell location would have been a welcomed venue. I couldn’t invite some family and close friends because of the limit of tickets given to us and of course the heat was another factor.
I am so glad that they are moving the location. It was do uncomfortable being at my daighter’s graduation two years ago and having half the family in the HOT gym and the other half in the cool auditorium. Its not the location that gives the spirit, it’s the people who contribute to the spirit of our town. At least the guests will be comfortable and you’re not putting the health of the elderly at risk. Kudos to the board!
VHS SCA board members took a tour of the Caldwell College facility with Mr. Cesa earlier this week and found the location to be quite inviting. The commencement ceremony will take place in a large gym with new bleachers and floor seating for graduates. The floor will be covered so it won’t look as much like a gymnasium. Everyone will have a great seat and will be able to see all the graduates eliminating the need for color coded tickets for special seating. The administration will look into having large video screens where photos of the students can be displayed. There is plenty of parking. If the weather is nice there is a lovely courtyard in front of the gym and refreshments can be served in a nearby cafeteria. Everything is air-conditioned. Although I will miss the ceremony on our own home field, I know that we will bring our Verona pride and cheers wherever our children receive their diploma.