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Graduation ceremonies being altered

February 24, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Graduation ceremonies for students completing the Washington County Board of Education's Evening High School will be handled in a different manner than in the past.

Traditionally, the teenage students graduating from the Evening High School and students graduating from adult education programs received diplomas at the same ceremony, which was held in June, said Robert J. Beard Jr., coordinator of Alternative Education Programs.

But that will change this year now that Hagerstown Community College has taken over adult education services that in the past were run by the Washington County Board of Education. The change was announced in November and took effect in January.

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HCC spokeswoman Beth Stull explained the college's position in a statement sent by e-mail.

"The advisory board for the adult education program made the decision to have its own graduation since the program is no longer affiliated with Washington County Public Schools. The ceremony is tentatively scheduled for June, but no further details are known at this point," she wrote.

The 50 to 75 students expected to graduate from the Evening High School this year will have two options if they want to participate in a ceremony this year, Beard said.

One option would be for students to ask to participate in the ceremony at the school they attended prior to enrolling in the Evening High School, he said. The "home" schools will look at those requests on a student-by-student basis, he said.

Or students can wait and participate in a summer graduation ceremony for students graduating late from all of the school system's high schools, he said.

Some of the Evening High School's students complete high school during the summer so this change would mean students finishing in the summer and those finishing earlier in the year can graduate together, he said.

The Evening High School is an alternative way for teenage students to receive a diploma when the regular daytime setting is not working for them, school board spokeswoman Carol Mowen said.

Beard said he has been working to ensure that all students will have an opportunity to take part in a graduation ceremony.

"We would never consider having them not participate in a ceremony," he said.

Sandy Stickler said she was concerned and upset when she thought her son was not going to be able to participate in a graduation ceremony this year. Troy Stickler, 17, completed his high school education about a week ago.

She said she felt better after being told Monday of Beard's comments. She said she hopes Stickler will be able to graduate as part of the summer graduation ceremony.

Spickler and Beard said it is important that students have the opportunity to walk across a stage and accept a diploma.

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