In or Out? The Graduation Debate

Katie Adams and Ella Weidman

In the Essex High School community, a petition has been circulating. This petition’s objective is to have the 2023 graduation ceremony moved outdoors. The ceremony is currently scheduled to be inside of the Essex skating rink on June 17th, 2023. 

Wes Pitcher, EHS senior, started the petition. “I was in my psychology class and it was brought up that graduation was going to be held inside. This was a class of all seniors, and I’m pretty sure every single one of them was upset,” Pitcher said.

The petition states reasons for wanting an outdoor ceremony, citing how it will better accommodate divorced parents, large families, and COVID concerns. 

There is also a section for feedback from signers. “I’ve seen some comments where people have expressed the same concerns,” Pitcher said. 

“My daughter is also a senior and having an outdoor ceremony would allow for more attendees. We shouldn’t be limited on who and how many can watch our children celebrate a milestone,” one commenter said.

Another concern about the ceremony being held indoors is the rink environment itself. “People have also said that an outdoor ceremony is a beautiful way to end the year. Last year, the ceremony was gorgeous. I think not only myself, but other people would really want that to happen again. We deserve to have a beautiful, lovely ceremony and we could have that inside, but the reality is, the rink is small. It’s cramped. We had prom in the rink last year, and if anyone remembers, it got hot and stuffy.” Pitcher said.

Even though there is push for graduation to continue to be held outdoors, prior to the COVID pandemic, graduation was held indoors. Mr. Goodrich, EHS assistant principal, stated that prior to the pandemic and the move to outdoor graduation, the indoor graduation tradition goes back around seventeen years. 

While other local schools go off-campus for graduation, EHS is different. “We’re unique in that we have a facility on our campus that’s large enough to meet the needs. We don’t need to go to Patrick gym, or Ross Sports Center. We get to hold it on campus,” Goodrich explained.  

“Anyone that needs more than eight tickets can simply request and they can get more than eight. We have a limit on tickets to calculate and ensure that we’re not over capacity.” Goodrich said. 

For families concerned about COVID, there will be a livestream of the event. “The responses to COVID and the rates of COVID allow us to now convene indoors. The event will be live streamed which is not perfect, but we will still continue to do the live streaming of the graduation for families that may not be able to be present,” said Goodrich. 

As of right now, the petition has garnered over 300 signatures and is continuing to grow. However, it is unlikely that the location of graduation will be changed.