Morning Graduation is Insulting to Santiago Seniors


Laci Avne, Staff Writer

Graduation is a time that is highly anticipated by high schoolers. It’s the time when seniors are finally free from the nest, and are beginning to build their careers. From as early as elementary school, students are told to work hard in order to graduate high school. But what if this pivotal moment wasn’t going to be all it was expected to be? What if teachers, parents, siblings, and friends couldn’t attend to support the ones they love?

If you want the answer, ask our schools’ current seniors. Santiago is having its graduation at 9 AM in Ontario on May 31. This day is during finals week for juniors, sophomores, and freshmen – making it nearly impossible for siblings or close friends of the graduates to attend. Many are disappointed that after years of hard work, they won’t be celebrated in the way they deserve.

Over the past 3 years, the three biggest high schools in the district: Roosevelt, Centennial, and Santiago have been on a rotation for graduation time. Last year, Roosevelt had their graduation in the morning, and many there felt the same anger that now, we at Santiago, are experiencing. 

I contacted the district and laid out our collective feelings regarding the time of graduation and the effect it is having on high school seniors. I stated, “I’m not attempting to change your mind, I just wanted to raise awareness of this issue so that maybe it can be prevented moving forward…I understand that factors come into play that led decisions like this to be made, but I was just looking for a clearer understanding.” CNUSD failed to respond to me, immediately sending the email back to Ms. Pavek telling her to handle the situation. I personally feel that this response was unprofessional and I feel hurt by the lack of concern shown by those who hold power. Of course, I had already spoken with Ms. Pavek about my concerns and then chose to escalate my voice to those who actually make the decisions – those in charge at the district office.  A simple response saying they appreciated my time and heard my concerns would have sufficed.  Instead, I was shown that the concerns and opinions of students clearly don’t matter.  

Mr. Sum, a Physics teacher at Santiago says, “Recognizing a problem and failing to act on it is the bigger problem.” He describes this situation as “unimaginable” and disappointing. As a teacher, he has harnessed personal relationships with students who are graduating this year and is upset about not being able to attend the ceremony. Many teachers feel that they deserve to see their students graduate, especially since they aided in them getting to that point. Mr. Sum also points out that his son, who is currently a freshman at Santiago, will be having his graduation in the morning due to the rotation schedule. 

It isn’t a matter of skipping school for teachers and students who want to support loved ones who have morning graduation, as it is finals week. Teachers must be there to give their students their last tests and assignments, and many students’ grades depend on their finals. 

It’s not so simple for parents to take off work either. The thought that every parent can simply take off work comes from a place of privilege. Some parents live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to provide for their families, meaning every day of work is needed. It could be a matter of having to choose to watch their child graduate or eat dinner. 

Seniors I have spoken to are devastated that they won’t receive the recognition they deserve. Working as hard as they have feels like a waste looking back, due to the lack of support from the district. For a celebration that is made out to be such a big deal, it’s crazy how easily it can be shoved to the side when a problem occurs. Although this year won’t be adjusted, it would be nice to at least put some effort toward fixing it for future graduates.  I wonder if CNUSD will respond to this?