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.

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - OPINION -

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.

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