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Commencement should be formal, school chief says

April 12, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - It will be pomp and consequences for any Chambersburg Area Senior High School senior who lights up a celebratory cigar or otherwise violates a set of new graduation ceremony guidelines announced Wednesday by Superintendent Joseph Padasak.

The superintendent said at the school board meeting that this year's graduation will be "more of a formal ceremony, rather than a very loose, circus atmosphere."

The ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 8, in Trojan Stadium, the first commencement held there since its $6 million renovation completed prior to the football season. That means it also will be the first graduation held on the football field's new artificial turf - which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Cigars on natural turf go out. Cigars on artificial turf don't," business manager Rick Vensel said. Chewing gum in grass is not much of a problem, but it gets ground into the artificial variety, he said.

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Smoking is prohibited on all school district property and tobacco use by minors is prohibited by state law, the announcement stated.

"In the past CASHS has experienced an increase in students bringing inflatable items, silly string and other items to throw around among students during the ceremony," according to a statement from the administration.

"This behavior is a distraction and disrespectful to other students, parents and guests," it read.

Padasak said he was not at the 2006 graduation, but noted that one student streaked off the stage. The male student did doff his cap and gown and take off, but was wearing a pair of gym shorts.

The traditional mingling of students with parents, other relatives and guests on the field will also come to an end under the new guidelines. Instead, parents and visitors will be "encouraged" to meet with the newly minted graduates at the stadium entrances or adjacent parking lots.

Students who show up intoxicated, or otherwise violate the new rules, will face consequences, Padasak said.

Violations "will result in that student's immediate removal from the facility by police officers even if the student did not receive his or her diploma," the guidelines state. "Any resistance to a student's removal can result in charges being filed by police. Any attempts to return onto school property will result in additional charges."

Padasak said the administration is trying to arrange to have as many as 20 police officers on duty for graduation. Despite the new guidelines, Padasak said he expects some students will try to test the new rules.

"I think everyone agrees we can't have this free-for-all," he said.

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