Hardy should rethink moving graduation
Lorain City Schools CEO David Hardy Jr. should reconsider moving the Lorain High School graduation exercise May 21 out of the city to the Wolstein Center Arena at Cleveland State University.
Hardy announced the venue change last week in the “Titan Touchpoints,” an electronic newsletter that goes to parents, educators and community stakeholders.
The information was included in a question-and-answer section of the newsletter.
A question was asked about why Lorain City Schools needed to change the venue.
The explanation said, “In the past, the graduation ceremony was held at George Daniel Field. When the high schools were combined, it became abundantly clear that there was not nearly enough space for all those who wished to attend. Holding the event outside and then having to quickly switch it inside was a logistical nightmare. Many families had to watch their graduates on TV screens in the cafeteria or auditorium. We wanted a space that was large enough to accommodate all the special people in our graduates’ lives.”
Hardy said the Wolstein Center “is a $55 million, stateof-the-art, full service, multipurpose facility that is capable of seating up to 15,000 people for special events and that other local high schools utilize offsite public arenas to hold their ceremonies.”
The newsletter said in addition to the ample space, increased comfort and better lighting and sound, it adds to the specialness and importance of the ceremony.
Jim Smith, a former school board member and local historian, said it appears this would make it the first graduation, at least in recent memory, to be held outside the city for Lorain High School.
But there are alternatives Hardy should consider in keeping the graduation in Lorain.
The graduation could be split into two sections: one in the afternoon and one in the evening.
And what about George Daniel Field? It has the size, but of course, there is that northeast Ohio unsettled weather issue in May.
Then there is Lorain County Community College, which had 650 graduates for its May 12 commencement, or the Lorain Palace Theater, which seats over 1,400.
There are several issues with moving the graduation to Cuyahoga County.
One is the safety of people traveling to Cleveland from Lorain. The Wolstein Center is about 30 miles away.
Lorain Schools Board Vice President Tony Dimacchia, who also has a child in the district, said he has spoken to quite a few parents who aren’t happy about the move and think it’s a bad idea.
Dimacchia said some Lorain families already have trouble making it to school events in the city alone due to lack of transportation.
Instead of having the ceremony five minutes away from home, he said moving it to a Cleveland venue on a weeknight will make it difficult for families to get there.
Lorain Schools answer is it hopes to find local businesses and charities to assist with transportation for graduates and families that need it.
But what if the support is not there?
To drive home his point, Hardy said going back to last year, George Daniel Field was getting a new artificial playing surface, so commencement was moved to Lorain High.
Graduating students each received six tickets for family and friends to join them in the Lorain High gymnasium.
The school auditorium served as an overflow space for 600 to 700 people, with the events inside the gym telecast there. All told, there was capacity for upwards of 3,000 people to celebrate the seniors.
Instead of focusing on academics, Hardy has continued making controversial and questionable decisions.
It’s miscue after miscue. Moving the graduation is another poor decision.
And last month, Hardy started telling people that if the test scores of his students don’t improve in the next few years, the district could turn into a charter school system.
Hardy should have said the scores are going to get better and there would be no discussion of charter schools.
Also last month, Hardy forced Lorain Schools teachers to adopt a confusing grading system without proper training. Hardy implemented the new system on short notice.
During a Nov. 28 meeting of the Lorain Academic Distress Commission, Hardy admitted teachers should have been better trained on the system, but he said the system would continue.
The teachers are trying to improve academics in the troubled district, and now have a new system to learn in the middle of the year.
This should not have happened.
Once again, Hardy needs to focus on improving scores, not where graduation will take place.