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Long, last looks EHS will say good-bye to 302 seniors Thursday night; Miller named valedictorian
ANDY FASNACHT Review Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
, Staff Writer
With an eye on the sky, the Ephrata Area School District is finalizing plans to send 302 seniors on to the next phase of life with its 118th Commencement exercises 7 p.m. Thursday night -it hopes – at War Memorial Field.
Being one of the few schools left in Lancaster County which plans an outdoor ceremony, Ephrata has to decide if it should leave it as is at War Memorial, allowing seniors to invite as many guests as they like, or move it to the Middle School gymnasium where space would limit each graduate to four tickets.
One year ago skies threatened but relented and even produced a rainbow over the proceedings at War Memorial. Once again, the local forecasters seem to be agreeing there is chance of some wet weather hitting Ephrata right about the time the band strikes up Pomp and Circumstance – leaving the district with potentially another tough call.
"I feel there’s a 60 percent chance of showers Thursday evening…so not ideal for outdoor commencement," said Millersville University Meteorologist Eric Horst Tuesday afternoon. "Hopefully the showers will miss Ephrata…but the period Thursday afternoon into Friday looks quite damp in the Lancaster region.
"Friday will be the wetter day overall, but I do think some showers can develop Thursday afternoon/evening," Horst said later.
By Wednesday morning, the situation had not improved.
"It’s not so good," he said, stating that it may be more like 75-80 percent chance of some rain during that critical 6 p.m. (when gates open) to 9 p.m. timeframe.
Horst went on to say that a southeasterly flow would have a big impact and that would be known Thursday. He said the system which has been hitting the Midwest will be weakening before its arrival and that it looks more like a chilly rain is on the way.
Many times the decision can come down to whether they are dealing with just rain or rain and lightning.
"As with all events, it is safety first," said Ephrata Superintendent Dr. Gerald Rosati, who is retiring in July. "We start monitoring the weather days before graduation. On the day of graduation, The Weather Channel and National Weather Forecast Office (State College), are on the computer from early in the morning until field time. If the weather is questionable, we closely monitor the hourly results as well as WGAL Doppler radar and have called the WGAL meteorologist in the past.
"If there are thunderstorms in the area, there is no question, we move indoors," Rosati continued. "If a rain shower passes over the field, like last year, there isn’t much we can do. We always hope for a safe and warm, sunny evening to celebrate this great accomplishment."
Horst said it doesn’t look like a "thunderstorm watch" is coming tomorrow but can’t rule it out this time of year.
In the event the ceremony needs to be moved indoors to the middle school gymnasium, each senior will have four tickets which were given to them Wednesday morning during Commencement rehearsal. For other family members, closed circuit is scheduled to be available in the middle school cafeteria and auditorium. No tickets are needed for either location.
Miller named Valedictorian
It was also announced Tuesday that Laura Miller has been named the EHS Class of 2013 Valedictorian and will address her classmates during commencement.
Miller is bound for Goshen College where she was the recipient of the $12,000 Menno Simmons Scholarship. Miller was also a big winner at the EHS Senior Awards assembly two weeks ago, collecting more than $12,000 in additional local scholarships, including winning the Phil Muth Social Studies award, the top Spanish student honor and the United States Marine Corps Scholastic Excellence Award.
More MILLER, page A6