They come in cut-off jeans and T-shirts, jump up and down, and leave after the graduate they came to see walks across the stage.
That’s what high school graduation looks like to Frontier Central School Board Member Janet MacGregor Plarr, and she doesn’t like it.
“There is no decorum. People are up and down and going outside and smoking,” she said.
Minutes before the board Tuesday night approved a $5,450 contract to hold the high school graduation at the Event Center at the Erie County fairgrounds, she asked if any thought was ever given to hold the ceremony in another place.
“It used to be people came to graduation at the high school, albeit, it may be warm at times in there, but they dressed appropriately, they acted appropriately, they weren’t running about in and out of the building,” Plarr said.
But today, she said, audience members “act like they are going to the fair.”
“There’s no dignity in the ceremony,” she said. “This is a milestone for students. It’s a milestone for a family and it’s turned into a bit of a circus.”
Board Member Larry Albert, a retired music teacher at the high school, said he has attended graduations at the high school dating to 1971, and space was always an issue. The ceremony was moved to the Event Center because it is larger than the high school auditorium and has more room for family and friends.
“I remember specifically one year where a single mother with an only child did not have a seat in the auditorium and had to sit in the cafeteria and watch on closed circuit TV. I remember the angst it caused her,” Albert said. He said with blended families, more family members attend graduation, and it might be difficult to limit the number of tickets to two or three per student.
Plarr said while she has had a seat on the stage as a board member, seating for the audience is on a flat, not graduated surface.
“Part of the reason people are up and down and jumping about is they can’t see over the people who are sitting in front of them,” Plarr said. “It just is not the best venue for that type of ceremony.”
She also said the boys dress up in shirt and tie and khakis, and girls are in nice dresses.
“Then you’ve got people coming in cutoff jeans and T-shirts,” she said.
Board members agreed that it’s too late to change the venue for this year’s graduation June 27, but Board President Patrick Boyle said the board could revisit the issue next year.
“Hey, if the kids are fine with it, so be it,” Plarr said. “I just think it should be a little bit nicer affair.”