Will Aspen High push back graduation for 2013? | AspenTimes.com

Will Aspen High push back graduation for 2013?

ASPEN – As is tradition, Aspen High School’s commencement ceremonies will take place Saturday at the Benedict Music Tent.

Next year, however, seniors might find themselves in school a week longer, as AHS administrators implored the Aspen Board of Education on Monday to push back next year’s graduation from Memorial Day weekend to June 1, 2013.

The reason for the request centered mainly on “what’s best for the kids.”

“You can feel the tension; these kids are circling the drain right now,” said AHS college counselor Kathy Klug. “Four more days would make such a difference for them and for everyone in the school community.”

Currently, seniors – whose last official day of class is a week before graduation – often find themselves having to go back to school for important International Baccalaureate exams. This also means the exams overlap with “Senior Week.” By pushing back graduation to June 1, students could finish exams and classes at the same time and then move on to the Senior Week and graduation festivities.

The school board first reviewed a written request to change the date of 2013 graduation earlier this month but was not inclined to do so, citing “the clear and extensive process” the district used to set the two-year calendar that’s now in place.

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“This isn’t a question of whether this would or wouldn’t be a good change for the students,” said board President Elizabeth Parker. “But we have a process in place that we need to respect.”

Klug responded, “We hope you will reconsider. Remember – all we’ve done in the community is to give out a piece of paper that says when graduation will be. It’s a whole year away, so we still have time.

“We have to consider what’s best for the kids first.”

In fact, the tide seemed to change after Klug and Aspen High counselor Emily Weingart spoke Monday.

“We are doing a disservice to our kids,” Weingart said. “We are suggesting this out of equity and fairness to all students. This is what’s best for our school.”

AHS interim Principal David Schmid added that the idea of pushing back graduation also was prompted by a need for increased instructional time.

“Four days is a significant amount of time, and that’s what we’re trying to focus on – increased instructional time for these kids,” he said.

Aspen Superintendent John Maloy noted it’s a “no-win” situation, as some parents will complain if the calendar is changed while others will be upset if it’s not. That said, Maloy said he will take into consideration the request and subsequent discussion, bringing a formal calendar recommendation to the board for approval on June 4. He said that although the topic of changing the graduation date was discussed, “it does not guarantee that I will make the recommendation to the board to change the graduation date for the 2012-13 school year at this time.”

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com

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