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Seniors vote to move graduation services to the Mount

March 26, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Seniors at Waynesboro Area Senior High School, in a close vote, decided to move their commencement exercises from the crowded, steamy gym in their own school to the comfort of a large auditorium at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md., a high school spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.

Graduations have been held inside or outside Waynesboro's high school since it opened in 1962.

The 2002 graduation was scheduled to be held outside but rain forced the event into the school's gymnasium. The weather that night was hot and the gym is not air-conditioned.

Katy Hatfield, a senior and the student representative on the Waynesboro Area Board of School Directors, told the board last week that about 130 people had to be taken out of the gym last year because of the stifling conditions. Many fainted, Hatfield said.

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She said students prefer graduation outside, but the weather does not always cooperate. It has been held outside for two of the last five years.

Jami Verderosa, high school principal, checked several possible sites, including the Penn State Mont Alto campus and Hagerstown Community College. None suited, said Gloria Pugliano, assistant superintendent.

The school board left the decision up to the seniors.

Denise Ditch, director of recreation services at Mount St. Mary's, said Tuesday that Knott Arena has a capacity of 3,500, is air-conditioned, handicapped-accessible and is the site of graduations for Frederick, Thomas Johnson, Middletown, Linganore, Walkersville, Catoctin, Urbana and Brunswick high schools, all of which are in Frederick County, Md.

Because there is more room in the Emmitsburg facility, Waynesboro graduates can invite more friends and relatives to see them receive their diplomas this year, Pugliano said.

In years past, students were limited to six guests.

Pugliano said last week that Waynesboro will rent Knott Arena for $1,200.

She said the Waynesboro School District would have needed to spend nearly $12,000 to build a ramp for a handicapped senior if the graduation was held in Waynesboro.

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