Some students and teachers at G. Ray Bodley High School want graduation moved out of the ice hockey rink that has been the ceremony’s home since at least 1988.
Their suggestion for a new home: The new Campus Center arena at SUNY Oswego.
“The condition of the ice rink in 1988 is not the condition the rink is in today,” teacher Rob Lescarbeau told the members of the Board of Education this week, with three students standing with him at the microphone. “We want the most grand stage we can give them.”
“Why won’t you take hold of something that’s better,” asked student Anna McKay after the meeting. “Why don’t you make something extra special?”
They argue that the city-owned ice rink is run down, dark, crowded and hot. “Putting two potted trees and a carpet on a stage doesn’t make the rink beautiful,” Lescarbeau said.
“People are so nervous about getting a good seat. It would be good to not have to worry about that,” said student Amanda Tetro.
They say many students and teachers feel the same way and have taken note of the schools that have moved their graduation ceremonies to other facilities, such as Syracuse’s OnCenter and SUNY Oswego’s Campus Center.
They asked for a chance to make a presentation to the Board of Education but board President and Vice President Robbin Griffin and Rosemary Occhino said no.
In a letter explaining the decision, Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch wrote that the audio system at the rink was improved last year and that he plans to talk to the city about making the rink look better.
He also said that Griffin and Occhino “believe the graduation ceremony to be a student, family, school, district and community event. To take this ceremony out of our community conveys the impression that our community is not ‘good enough’.”
Lynch added that moving the ceremony would impose costs on the district and on families and could create a hardship for some.
Lescarbeau and the students said that they believed the costs could be covered and that transportation could be provided for those who need it.
At the meeting, Griffin promised to have a more in-depth discussion with the group about the issue, but “not at the time frame you’re looking for”.
“I don’t see why they wouldn’t want to move forward,” said student Carson Metcalf.
“It’s a significant conversation,” said Lynch after the meeting. He said he wants to avoid a scenario where “you can have a decision before many folks know there’s been a question.”
[This article was edited after publication to remove an error. I wrote that Superintendent Lynch’s letter said that moving graduation would be contrary to district goals. The reference to district goals actually referred to the question of whether the discussion of moving graduation would be allowed as a report or not. Also, one student was misidentified in the photo caption. – Dave Bullard]