Graduation outdoors

By on April 3, 2014


Ephrata High School seniors will graduate at War Memorial Field on its originally scheduled date of June 5, the district announced Wednesday.

The district responded quickly to appeals from parents who objected to a proposal to abandon its traditional outdoor graduation ceremony.

The proposed changes were prompted in part to anticipated construction to install synthetic turf at War Memorial Field.

The district listened to residents’ feedback at the Februaryschool board meeting and solicited responses in an online poll, Superintendent Brian Troop noted in a letter sent out Wednesday.

“According to the feedback we received, parents/guardians and students prefer an outdoor ceremony with the ability to invite eight or more family members and friends to share in this milestone,” the letter stated.

That was welcome news for many, including parent Michelle Cramer Simmons.

“I’m very very happy with the outdoor graduation. now if we could have the students face the bleachers instead of parents looking at the back of their heads that would be a perfect graduation ceremony,” she noted Wednesday morning.

Troop stated “there was a real possibility that the installation of a synthetic turf field at War Memorial Field would require us to hold our 2014 graduation ceremony elsewhere.”

But Troop said details are still being worked out to draft a timetable, development plans, and submit building permit applications.

“Not yet,” Troop said in an email Tuesday. “Just delays that are enough for us to likely not need to interrupt graduation ceremonies. We know that if it happens, it will not happen early enough in the spring to interrupt graduation ceremonies.”

At the Feb. 24 board meeting, Troop told the audience that a proposed construction schedule is unavailable “since the project is not 100 percent happening at this point.”

The project hinges on a $1 million gift promised last year by an anonymous donor exclusively for a turf project. Troop said the donor has contributed funds toward securing an architect for the project.

The district had hoped to have a timeline in place for a turf field for the Ephrata Mounts home football games in September.

The process will require two permit types &tstr;building occupancy and land development &tstr; with two separate projects under one bidding umbrella, Troop said in January.

He noted in his letter, “While the snow covering the field presented some legitimate delays to the planning work associated with the project, the district administration and school board also reflected upon the feedback respectfully shared with us over the past several weeks.”

“It may not always be possible to accomplish timelines or certain project goals without temporarily disrupting other functions of the District, but if we continue to have open dialogue and respectfully share opinions, we can continue to work together to strengthen the Ephrata Area School District and community.”

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at or at 721-4455

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