Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Education

High schools graduations in Hernando balance space needs, weather threats

BROOKSVILLE — It didn't take long for last year's graduation ceremony at Hernando High School to dissolve into a soggy mess.

As seniors marched to the football stadium, heavy black clouds opened up over the celebration. The seniors and guests were soaked, drenching gowns and ruining graduation caps.

Across the county, Springstead High School's ceremony also experienced a weather-related hiccup; it was postponed to avoid a similar fate.

This year, the schools decided to go in opposite directions for their ceremonies. Hernando is going indoors. Springstead is staying outside.

The decisions illustrate the difficult and often conflicting issues high school administrators must weigh and balance as graduation day approaches. It's a high-stakes time, and oftentimes it's impossible to please everybody.

"It is very stressful," said Hernando High assistant principal Angela Miller Royal. "You're trying to make the best decision. Inevitably, you're going to upset some and satisfy some."

Hernando High's graduation this year will be at Grace World Outreach Church in Brooksville on Saturday evening. It's one of three schools — including Central High and Weeki Wachee High — that will have graduation at the church.

Springstead will have its on the evening of June 5 at the school's football stadium. If it rains, the ceremony will be at 11 a.m. the next day at the school. Nature Coast will have graduation at 7:30 p.m. Friday outdoors at the school; its rain date is at 9 a.m. Saturday in the school gym.

While Grace World offers a lot of perks — not the least of which is protection from the elements — but it is smaller than the Hernando High stadium, and the school will need to restrict attendance.

Students are guaranteed five tickets and can request up to an additional five, Miller Royal said.

"It was a difficult decision," she said. "We do understand the history of having it in the stadium."

But she said administrators felt having the graduation indoors at the church was the "best move for the majority of students."

In the past, Hernando has tried holding graduation indoors in the school gym. But that presented problems, too.

In 2008, more than a dozen irate family members were blocked from entering the gym by law enforcement officer after capacity was reached.

The next year, graduation was moved back outdoors.

"We're just kind of limited in spaces where we can host that many people," Miller Royal said.

Springstead principal Susan Duval said that, in the case of her school, it is important to students and parents to hold the event on campus and not at Grace World, which was considered.

"Brooksville and Spring Hill are miles apart," Duval said. "These kids and parents are very loyal to Springstead, and this is where they want to be."

She decided to keep the rain date at Springstead as well after doing a survey at the school. Space was also a factor, she said.

"The stadium holds a lot more people than the church does," she said. "When you start dividing families up on who can watch graduation, it's tough on families."

At Weeki Wachee High, the decision to have graduation the church was as much about money as concerns over the weather.

"Being a new school, we really didn't have any start-up money," said Nancy Jacobs, a senior class sponsor.

Jacobs said Grace World offers a good price and a number of benefits, such as live streaming on the Internet for those who can't make it. Church officials have been generous and gracious, she said, and the school's first-ever graduation there last year was a success.

Still, space might become an issue if the school's class size gets much bigger, she acknowledged.

"It would be my druthers to have (graduation) in some type of huge arena," Jacobs said. "That's just not going to happen here in Hernando County."

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.

Comments
Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

NEW YORK — This may or may not come as a surprise: Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is "feminism." Yes, it’s been a big year or two or 100 for the word. In 2017, lookups for feminism increased 70 percent over 2016 on Mer...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey has learned all the tricks to get her kids out of bed and off to school every morning. But this year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every school day with a knot i...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

University of Central Florida Greeks won’t hold social events, serve alcohol for 6 weeks this spring

ORLANDO — University of Central Florida fraternities and sororities won’t host social activities or any events with drinking for at least the first six weeks of the spring semester, up from the two-week ban on alcohol that has been in place in the pa...
Published: 12/08/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17
Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Hillsborough County’s public school teachers are horn-honking, voice-raising, sign-waving, foot-stomping mad, and I can’t blame them. They are paying for a problem they didn’t create. About one-third of the workforce was expecting to receive a $4,000...
Published: 12/07/17
In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

SPRING HILL — On a small wooden dock at the Cross Bar Ranch, Cynthia Brinker gingerly pokes through the trappings in her fishing net, plucking out a tiny creature to examine close up. "What the heck is this?" the Weightman Middle School studen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

BROOKSVILLE — For just a year and a half, Steve Crognale has been the principal at the Endeavor and Discovery Academies. But now, he’s been named the Hernando School District Principal of the Year for 2018. Endeavor serves students, most of them hig...
Published: 12/06/17
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey is skilled at calming first-day-of-school jitters. But this school year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every weekday with a knot in her stomach.It’s been there ever since th...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Why do universities handle sexual assault cases, anyway?

Why do universities handle sexual assault cases, anyway?

News stories about campus sexual assault often get the question, "Why do schools handle these cases, anyway?"Readers often wonder how universities got tasked with handling these convoluted cases in the first place. Where, they ask, do the police come...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

TAMPA — The second Hillsborough County School Board meeting in less than a month took place Tuesday against a backdrop of honking car horns, cheering teachers and audience members moving through the room in shifts.Dressed in blue union-issued T-shirt...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17