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Nevis graduation moved back to 7 p.m.

The Nevis School Board on Jan. 28 reversed its controversial decision last November regarding the time of this year's high school graduation.

On Nov. 28, 2018 the school board unanimously approved moving the ceremony from 7 p.m. Saturday, May 26 to 10:30 a.m., in order to take advantage of cooler conditions earlier in the day in the non-air-conditioned gymnasium.

The move drew criticism at the board's Dec. 17 meeting from a group of students who said it complicated travel plans for out-of-town relatives, and would also affect pre-ordered invitations, graduation parties and lodging during the already well-booked Memorial Day weekend.

The issue was tabled on Dec. 17 after a lengthy discussion, including input from seniors Kyrsten Sauser and Autumn Vogel. Along with classmates Gabby David and Tahya Breezee, they returned Monday to restate their objections to the graduation time being changed after the school year began and without consulting the students.

David urged the board to move the graduation back to 7 p.m.

Board chair Larry Smith recalled that when the matter was tabled in December, he had hoped to learn how many students were for, against, or had no opinion about the time change. "I'm still waiting for that information," he said.

David noted that the senior class was advised not to send invitations or lock in plans until the question's outcome was sure.

Board member Gary Stennes asked whether the students felt no one would be hurt by moving the ceremony back to 7 p.m.

"I can't guarantee that," said Sauser, but she said none of the students who were willing to talk to her about it foresaw any adverse effect of reversing the change.

Following approximately 15 minutes of discussion on the issue, the board passed a motion to amend its agenda, adding the graduation time as an action item.

When the graduation question came up a few minutes later, Superintendent Gregg Parks took responsibility for the school board missing an opportunity to address the graduation time issue last February. He said he thought by addressing the issue in November, they had given this year's seniors enough time to plan.

"I applaud the individuals who have stepped forward," Parks concluded. "I think you did a fantastic job of representing yourself. I would also say that I think all of this has probably made it more passionate than it actually is. The event is one thing, but it's all the preparation, everything we do to get to that point, that years from now, the time of it won't necessarily matter to you. I think if you (asked) a lot of these individuals, 'What time did you graduate?' — 'I haven't a clue.'"

Board member Justin Isaacson moved to revert this year's graduation time to 7 p.m. The motion passed with no dissent.

Stennes suggested that Parks gauge the junior class' feelings about moving the 2020 graduation to 10:30 a.m.

Board member Andy Lindow said, "I think the issue was more of the timing. It was approved, and it was already out there, and then we switched it later."

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