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Perham-Dent School Board votes down proposal to change graduation date

The Memorial Day weekend graduation tradition in Perham will live on.

The Perham School Board voted down a measure 4-3 on April 20 that would have changed the graduation ceremony date to the Sunday following the last day of school.

The senior graduation ceremony has traditionally been held on Memorial Day weekend, before the last official day of school.

This year, the last day of school is Wednesday, June 1. Seniors, however will be let out Wednesday, May 25 in time to prepare for the Sunday, May 29 ceremony. That means seniors will miss out on four days of school.

School board member Jim Rieber expressed concern that the early let-out for seniors would disrupt classrooms that include both juniors and seniors.

"I think graduation should be at the end of the year, that's when it's done," Rieber said.

Activities Director Fred Sailer said he thinks the Sunday before Memorial Day is the right time for graduation, as Sunday is the only day the Minnesota State High School League doesn't schedule games. Student athletes who may be competing in state tournaments could miss out on graduation ceremonies if the district moved away from the Sunday schedule.

Rieber said he would be in favor of moving the graduation date to the Sunday after the last official day of school.

Superintendent Tamara Uselman said it is not in violation of state law to let seniors out early. Surrounding schools, including Pelican Rapids, Frazee and New York Mills also hold graduation ceremonies before the last official day of school.

Rieber said he based his position on feedback from teachers, who said having seniors leave early changed the dynamic of the classroom. He was followed in his vote by Sue Huebsch and Myron Roe.

Graduation for the class of 2011 will be held on Sunday, May 29.