Friday, March 16, 2001

Input sought on graduation site

Fairfield weighing two options

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD — Fairfield Senior High seniors and their parents are being polled this week about where they want graduation to be — the high school arena on June 7, or Xavier University's Cintas Center on June 6.

        The action comes six months after a controversial decision to move graduation from Miami University's Millett Hall to the high school arena.

        Administrators began re-examining the August decision after receiving graduation ticket requests.

        Spokesman Randy Oppenheimer said of the 490 ticket request forms returned by the end of last week, 70 percent requested the six-ticket limit and asked to be put in a lottery for additional tickets. There are about 590 seniors. If each senior received the maximum of six tickets, the audience would fill more than 3,400 seats. Adding the graduates, faculty and other guests would push the crowd to the arena's capacity of about 4,400.

        An additional 900 seats are available if the ceremony is broadcast to other areas of the school. However, the school would not be able to accommodate the necessary parking, requiring shuttle bus service, Superintendent Robert Farrell said.

        Student Government President and senior Adam Beane said he's pleased students and their families are being asked their opinions.

        “I think the (first) decision was made in a poor way,” Adam said. “No matter how the survey comes back, everybody will be happy. It's important we know how they think.”

        Parent Sue Nitz said she favors the Cintas Center but she, too, is pleased graduates and parents are being polled.

        “There are a lot of situations out there and the decision was made without taking into account all of them,” Mrs. Nitz said. “No one asked the class or us what we thought. (Asking students and parents) is a good way of building trust within the community. It's a good feeling they do care.”

        School board President Anne Crone said that in past years at Millett Hall, observers in back rows made enough noise that families couldn't hear graduates' names being read — particularly those at the end of the alphabet.

        “Our main goal is not to upset people but provide a dignified ceremony where every mom and grandma can hear their graduate's name read. Graduation is just as much for the family as the graduate.”

        Mrs. Crone said that whatever decision is made, someone will be dissatisfied.

        “People are passionate about graduation. Fifty people will be happy with the decision. Fifty people will be ready to stone us.”

        Even if graduation moves to the Cintas Center, tickets might still be required. Tickets would allow school officials to better estimate the number of people attending and the number of ushers and reserved seats needed, Mr. Oppenheimer said.


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