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DePue students want a new graduation date

Students present petition to board and protest recent decision

DEPUE — Despite students petitioning and holding a brief “sit-in” protest during school hours, DePue School Board members are sticking with their decision to hold graduation ceremonies on a Sunday, as opposed to the usual Friday.

In December, the board approved eighth-grade and high school graduation ceremonies for May 18, a Sunday. The intention to move the date was to avoid track meets, which are held on the Friday and Saturday of graduation weekend.

At the time, board member Nickole Barto said it was a conflict they always run into every year. Stories of students rushing to get back to make their graduation ceremony and some even having to change into dress clothes in the car on the way to the ceremony were shared at the time.

To prevent the chaos this year, the graduation date was moved to Sunday.

With this new date, however, some of the students who will be participating in the graduation have expressed negative opinions about the change. Last month, students started a petition, which they gathered signatures and presented to the board asking to change the graduation date to May 16, a Friday. Students expressed having graduation on a Sunday would limit the time to celebrate with family and friends and would conflict with church events taking place on Sunday.

The board decided to put the option to switch the date to Friday on their agenda for the March board meeting.

Superintendent Randy Otto confirmed that at Wednesday’s meeting the board claimed that students didn’t bring enough “compelling evidence” that proved holding graduation on a Sunday would conflict with events and celebrations.

The board then had a vote to change graduation date to May 16. Board members Nickole Barto, Paul Bosnich, Karen Miranda and Juan Ruiz voted down the motion, and board members Richard Hernandez and Laurie Delgado voted in favor of the motion. Board member Jason Hayes was absent from the meeting.

After the board’s decision, some students in the senior class and eighth grade held a brief “sit-in” protest on the following Friday morning.

Otto said about 20 students sat on the stairs during class time. When asked to return to class, no one objected.

Otto said on Wednesday that students have started another petition and have asked to hold a special meeting with the board. The meeting date and time is still being negotiated, but Otto said they are shooting for sometime next week.

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