A Senior’s Perspective on Rye High’s Graduation Conflict
By Grace Macdonald
Going back decades, even prior to the 2005 installation of the turf field, almost every Rye High School class has graduated at Nugent Stadium. However, this long-standing tradition was put in jeopardy this year due to the expected turf renovations that were approved with the passage of the school bond in June. In order for the new turf to be completed by September for gym class and fall sports, construction needs to begin by early June. This would mean that hosting a June 20th graduation in Nugent Stadium would be impossible. So, unbeknownst to the entire senior class, school officials moved our graduation ceremony to the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester. As one can imagine, this caused a massive uproar in the community, especially within the senior class.
We were upset with this decision for many reasons. Rye is a town of tradition, and we were all looking forward to graduating on the turf just like our predecessors. It’s such an iconic Rye tradition for the graduates wearing their graduation stoles to take pictures with friends, family, and teachers after the ceremony with Garnet flags flying and the scoreboard indicating our graduation year. Graduating in Port Chester wouldn’t have any significance for us because we haven’t grown up and gone to school there. Furthermore, the Capitol Theatre is a concert venue, not a place to celebrate scholastic achievements. For me personally, my mom, two aunts and two uncles, and older sister all graduated at Nugent, so it is important to me to carry on the family tradition. We also felt blindsided and betrayed that no one asked us for our opinions, even though it’s our graduation under consideration. If we had had a greater say in the decision-making process, perhaps we could’ve prevented unfortunate ideas like the Capitol Theatre from being chosen.
Luckily, there was a huge response from community-members, and the school was encouraged to find another option. The second time around, school officials allowed the Class of 2020 to vote on one of two options: push the graduation date ahead to May 31 so that it can still be held at the turf or have the ceremony on the Upper Field under a tent on the previously scheduled date of June 20. When voting, inclement weather was a concern for students; only the second option remains unchanged, rain or shine. But in the end, the vast majority of students decided that graduating at Nugent Stadium is more important than any other factor. The decision to hold graduation in Nugent Stadium won by 82.6% of the vote.
Although we were initially disappointed with how Rye High handled our graduation, the school officials ultimately listened to our concerns and made changes where changes were due. It goes to show how true power in numbers can be and how important it is to stand up for one’s beliefs.