Groveport Madison graduation could move from high school

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By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Throughout the history of Groveport Madison Schools, graduation ceremonies each June were held at the high school either in the gym or on the football field

Then, in the early 21st century, graduation was moved off site indoors to Veterans Memorial and the Celeste Center to avoid potential bad weather and to accommodate the large crowd the ceremony draws.

The 2019 graduation hearkened back to old traditions by being held at Cruiser Stadium, but district officials are now considering moving the ceremony off site once again.

“There are always weather concerns holding the ceremony outdoors,” said Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden.

She added that the large crowd attending graduation in 2019 resulted in parking problems at the high school and traffic backing up on South Hamilton Road.

“Our 565 parking spaces are not enough to handle it,” said Ogden. “Cruiser Stadium can hold 4,000 people and our gym can hold 1,500, so holding it in the gym is not feasible in bad weather.”

Ogden said it takes two days to set up the stage and technology in Cruiser Stadium for graduation. She said the district has to pay for security to protect the stage and technology for those two day,s plus there are costs for overtime pay for the technical staff.

“Then, if it rains during set up, we have to take it all down and move it inside,” said Ogden.

Ogden recommended to the Groveport Madison Board of Education that the 2020 graduation ceremony be moved indoors to World Harvest Church, located on Gender Road in Canal Winchester.

“There would be no weather problems, it seats 6,400, it has high quality audio-visual that their staff operates, there’s abundant free parking, and it is located near our district,” said Ogden, who added that Canal Winchester High School and both Pickerington high schools use the World Harvest venue for their graduations. “We’re trying to find a place close by and convenient to accommodate everyone.”

She said it would cost the district $10,000 to rent the World Harvest Church facility.

“It seems reasonable to take graduation somewhere inside,” said board member Nancy Gillespie. “There are problems with holding it at Cruiser Stadium. It can be hot. It could rain. There’s traffic issues and some people ended up watching the ceremony from behind a fence because there’s not enough room for them.”

Board President Bryan Shoemaker questioned using the religious facility for graduation because he said some people may be philosophically opposed to it. He also questioned the cost compared to the rental fee at the Celeste Center in Columbus.

Ogden said neither Canal Winchester nor Pickerington indicated they had any religious philosophical conflicts about holding their ceremonies at World Harvest.

“Because graduation’s not a religious event,” said Ogden.

Groveport Madison Treasurer John Walsh said it costs around $4,000 to $5,000 plus additional charges for amenities to rent the Celeste Center. Plus there is a $5 parking fee at the Celeste Center.

Board member Chris Snyder said people were excited to have graduation back at the high school and questioned how moving it away again would affect people.

“The Celeste Center is such a drive for people,” said board member Libby Gray. “It’s hard for parents to get there. The issue is the stress it puts on people.”

Shoemaker noted the district invested in a stage, equipment, and chairs to be used for graduation on site at the high school. Ogden said these items can still be used for other events at the school.

The board will vote on where to hold the 2020 graduation ceremony at its Sept. 11 meeting at 7 p.m. at the district offices located at 4400 Marketing Place, Suite B, Groveport.

1 COMMENT

  1. The school district moved graduation back to the school to be closer for families and to be a community event. Spending $10,000 or even any money for that fact of the tax payers dollars is NOT acceptable. The tax payers were so kind to vote for a bond and levy 5 years ago and the school is not using their facilities given to them to the best of their abilities. If it rains the HS is equipped with technology that allows a camera to air it from the gym to the commons and to the aux gym for that matter. It would not take much work to make some of that happen in the aux gym. Maybe some of the over paid administrators at the top should work on that instead of the other unnecessary things that they do.

    The district is coming back to us community members in November asking for us to renew their money and they are not spending the money they have efficiently. They don’t cut take from one program to start another program and they spend money on things that are not in immediate need. To a district that struggles with financial need, they should be during long term planning and not spending immediately when they get it.

    Community members we need to rally together and not let this unnecessary spending continue to happen. Very unimpressed with the board members and district leadership that is trying to move graduation away from our hometown school. Congratulations to the 2 men on the board who are standing up and raising the right questions for the district. We MUST not let spending money like this happen and stop the unnecessary spending!

    Cruiser community stand up and speak out!

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