Sunday, August 06, 2000

Fairfield ceremony likely to move

Officials cite problems with off-campus graduation

By Sue Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFIELD — Graduation ceremonies for Fairfield Senior High School's Class of 2001 will likely move from Miami University's Millett Hall to the high-school arena.

        Four of the five school board members on Thursday agreed to allow Superintendent Charles Wiedenmann to make the final decision after each said they favored the move. Mr. Wiedenmann said the decision would be made Monday after he speaks with Principal Monica Mitter, who did not attend the meeting.

        “My position has been since the beginning it ought to be at Fair field High School,” Mr. Wiedenmann said after the meeting. “I've sat through eight of these (graduations) and the problems (of using Millett) outweigh the benefits. I'm 99 percent sure it's coming back to Fairfield for the Class of 2001.”

        He said Mrs. Mitter had said she was in favor of moving it back.

        The lack of security and air conditioning, the long drive to Oxford, darkness in Millett Hall and having to schedule graduation around Millett's availability were reasons noted for moving the ceremony back to the school.

        Most notably, said board Vice President Anne Crone, was inappropriate behavior by guests.

        “This is an academic ceremony, not a football game,” she said. “Every child's parent, grandparent or guest should have the right to hear their graduate's name heard in a ceremony with dignity, not a party atmosphere.”

        By moving the ceremony, Fairfield educators would have more control over who attends and could more easily ask those who weren't behaving properly to leave, board members said.

        The biggest drawback to holding the ceremony in the arena has been space. Fire and building codes would allow about 4,800 — including graduates — in the arena, said John Pennell, administrative assistant for business. That would probably mean each of the 600-plus graduates would be lim ited to five guests.

        Board members Vicky Barger and Maurice Godsey suggested that perhaps the ceremony could be broadcast live and shown over closed-circuit televisions set up in the Performing Arts Center or classrooms.

        Student Government President Adam Beane, a senior, said Friday he understands the board's reasons for leaving Millett Hall but is still disappointed.

        “I would prefer it at some place where the facility wasn't limited (in seating),” Adam said. “It doesn't have to be Millett, but somewhere of that caliber. Graduation is going to be the most important thing in anybody's life to that point.”


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