The students at Lincolnton High School will don their caps and gowns and attend their graduation ceremony at the James W. Warren Citizens Center, despite the efforts of some to change the location.
Tammy Farris, the mother of a Lincolnton High senior, collected 124 signatures from students who supported moving the graduation outdoors. The class has approximately 190 students graduating.
Farris had gone out of her way to organize a stadium graduation, even though she didnâ€™t have permission from Lincolnton High School or the Board of Education.
â€œI had everything in order, and they still would not let it happen,â€ said Farris.
Farris spoke to the Board of Education at two different meetings.
After learning she had the support of some board members, she attempted to have an emergency meeting called.
School policy, however, would not allow for the meeting to be called. To call an emergency meeting the circumstances would have to be unexpected.
â€œIâ€™m sorry that Mrs. Farris could not accept what I told her because itâ€™s pointless to make a big issue out of this at this time,â€ said Jean Dellinger, chairman of the board. â€œGraduation is Saturday at nine oâ€™ clock.â€
Farris believed she had support from board members Joan Avery, Fred Jarrett and Tony Jenkins.
Jenkins felt that students should be able to choose where they want to graduate.
â€œThe issue isnâ€™t whether we have it inside or outside,â€ said Jenkins. â€œThat wasnâ€™t the issue to me, it was the lack of student participation and lack of students being heard.â€
Dellinger was against overturning Lincolnton Highâ€™s decision to hold the ceremony at the Citizens Center.
â€œI told Mrs. Farris that as long as I could remember this had been a decision made by the local school, and I certainly as a board member was not going to step in and overrule the schoolâ€™s decision especially at this late date,â€ said Dellinger. â€œThe school begins planning graduation in the fall.â€
Proponents of changing the location of the ceremony felt that five tickets were not enough for each graduating senior.
The stadium offered larger seating, which would allow more family members to come.
Despite opposition from administration, Farris had already planned an outdoor ceremony.
She had found a school in Gaston County that was willing to loan a stage platform. She had also planned to pay for 200 chairs herself for graduating seniors to sit in.
â€œI took a lot of time and even put my personal money in this,â€ said Farris. â€œItâ€™s just unfortunate that we canâ€™t have it in the stadium.â€by Sarah Grano