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Group of Tewksbury High Students Want To See Graduation Venue Changed

Issue is on the agenda for the next School Committee meeting.

As the new Tewksbury High School was being planned and constructed, one of the things school department officials were looking forward to was having a gymnasium large enough to host a graduation ceremony.

However, some members of the TMHS Class of 2013 say the new gym isn't big enough and they would like to see the June 7 ceremony moved outdoors, to Doucette Field.

Earlier this month, seniors John Froio, Christian Taylor and a handful of other students attended a Tewksbury School Committee meeting to share their concerns and a petition signed by around 200 students. Froio said he had briefed Superintendent of Schools Dr. John O'Connor and Principal Brenda Regan in advance of the meeting.

"Our biggest concern was about (a lack of) seating in the gym," said Froio. "We'd heard initially that there would be only five tickets given per student. I know personally there are 11 people that are going to want to come."

Froio said he and other students were later told the number of tickets might be as high as eight per student, but he said even that number is insufficient for many families.

Taylor and Froio spoke during the public comment portion of the School Committee meeting, so there wasn't much in the way of give and take with committee members. However, the issue has been placed on the agenda for the March 13 School Committee meeting.

"The committee has asked me to get together some more specifics on seating," said O'Connor. "We'll do a presentation at that time."

Last year, seating capacity wasn't an issue at all, as the ceremony was held at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell. In 2011, the ceremony was held in the UMass-Lowell Gym. O'Connor said those venues weren't considered for 2013.

"We're not going with ULowell because of costs and the fact that we now have a brand new gym that we feel is large enough to accommodate graduation and accommodate the needs of families for tickets," said O'Connor.

Froio said moving the graduation to an outdoor venue like Doucette Field would ensure sufficient seating. And in the case of a weather forecast of rain, the gymnasium would still be available as a Plan B.

O'Connor applauded the efforts of Froio, Taylor and the other students but said that in all likelihood, school officials would stick with the gymnasium as the venue.

beatrice February 25, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Will there be enough parking at Doucette Field?
Me February 25, 2013 at 01:29 PM
It's too late, deposits need to be done far in advance for a venue. where is it they can go this late in the game? Plus it's $10,000 plus for a venue, I never understood why here in Tewksbury we didn't have an outdoor Graduation with a rain plan for indoors if weather is non compliant. My high school has graduation outdoors to this day and when I graduated we ended up inside because it did rain that morning. Doucette, I doubt would be an option because of the horrible condition of the bleachers (huge safety issue) There'd probably be enough parking (if it were at Doucette) if they used the Ryan School lot, but there could be a shuttle bus from TMHS for parking if need be - that would be a lot cheaper than 10 grand for a private venue. Just my two cents (and YES, I have a 2013 TMHS Graduating Senior, as well as next year 2014)
Kendrick Lamar February 25, 2013 at 02:25 PM
They stopped doing graduations there in 2008 it's been at umass Lowell or the tsongus center since then and it's way too expensive to keep doing the there so sadly the only other place is the gym
Mom February 25, 2013 at 03:20 PM
What about all night grad party? If graduation is in the gym, it doesn't leave enough time for set up. Do the kids lose out on this too? I have a senior and wouldn't mind the gym, but I will not watch my daughter on a tv in the auditorium. I have heard any over flow will go in the auditorium. I have heard many different numbers as far as tickets go, but I think it is a must for parents/family be in the gym . Students going to see friends should be in the auditorium
John Froio February 25, 2013 at 03:47 PM
There won't be enough parking at the high school also. Either way they will have to bus people to the location of graduation. This could be an issue for people who are handicapped.
kelly wentworth February 25, 2013 at 04:24 PM
The All Night Long Celebration is still going to take place. They've already had a few meetings and the next one is tomorrow night at THMS at 7pm in the cafeteria if anyone would like to help out. They've got a plan in place for setting up for the celebration, utilizing part of the gym and the cafeteria. If anyone want to volunteer, they can email: tmhsallnightlong@gmail.com.
Dan February 25, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Class of 65...our graduation Was at Doucette, although I forget if it was done on the week-end. Haven't been back to those bleachers since so I'm sure they are in rough shape. My grand-daughter graduated last year, and going to Tsongas on a week night at 5 O'clock was a real Pain!!!Maybe the senior class could go down to Doucette and fix it up enough to get thru one day of graduation. Tell people to bring a blanket or something to sit on in advance, just a thought. Week-end seems a better idea also, but a Lot has changed since my time...
John Froio February 25, 2013 at 04:55 PM
I believe that it was fixed up by the football team recently. The visitor side stands were in bad shape before and now they look like they were just built. And I agree graduation at 7 pm is a pain no one wants to be there until 9.
SD From T-Bury February 25, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Wow, graduations have been all over the place. Mine (87) was held at Lowell Memorial Auditorium and I remember earlier ones at Cawley Stadium.
Comment February 25, 2013 at 05:47 PM
My child graduated at Doucette, while it was great to be able to have everyone who wanted to attend there, there is no lighting and those at the end of the alphabet were graduating when it was pretty dark out. I'm sure pictures from the stands didn't come out due to lack of outdoor lighting. I say plan to have it outside and use the gym in the event of inclement weather. Not every child will have 8+ people to attend. I am guessing if you allow each student to request how many tickets they need, you may have enough. Some will only need 2, others may need 14 - but it will probably average out if each student only requests what they know will be used.

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