McNicholas High School’s administrative team made the decision to move the Class of 2018’s graduation closer to home. Graduation will be held in Penn Station Stadium on McNick’s campus.
“The location that we used [last year] was Music Hall, and they are closed for renovation,” principal Patty Beckert said. “In the last 16 years, we’ve had graduation at many venues, [but] we wanted something significant to McNick.”
Music Hall reservations for this year’s graduation couldn’t have been made until the beginning of January 2018, too late to begin planning. Transportation, parking, and convenience all factored into the decision to move the graduation venue.
In the case of rain or bad weather, graduation will be moved to McNick’s Main Gym. Parking will be available in McNicholas’s parking lots, Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church, and Guardian Angels. McNick’s lower lot will be reserved for faculty and staff.
Baccalaureate Mass will take place on the same day as graduation, rather than on separate days as in years prior. Baccalaureate Mass will be at Guardian Angels at 4 p.m. on May 20. “During that time [after Baccalaureate Mass], guests will move across the street. Shuttles will be available,” said Director of Communications Shannon Kapp. Penn Stadium will be open for seating at 5:30 p.m., and graduation will be held at 6:30 p.m. Parent seating will be available on the track, as well as handicapped accessible seats.
“The ceremony will include the traditional components, valedictorian and salutatorian speeches, the faculty speech, and awarding of the diplomas,” Kapp said. “One change this year is that the Alumni Medals which have been distributed at Baccalaureate Mass will now be placed on graduates after receiving their diplomas.” After the ceremony, a reception will be held in the courtyard.
“Several alumni who have heard about this year’s graduation wish that their celebration would have been on campus, at the place where memories have been made, and where many of you have given your time and talent to leave McNicholas a better place than when you arrived,” Kapp said. “What matters is the significance and celebration of this accomplishment and the opportunity to share and experience it with those who have travelled this high school journey with you.”
Student views on this change vary. “I personally had been looking forward to graduating specifically at Music Hall since I was a freshman,” senior Lexi Gauger said. “I also do not like having the Baccalaureate Mass and graduation ceremony on the same day at all. I have been to every graduation and every Baccalaureate Mass, and each of these events on their own is exhausting. I think all the guests and students will be too tired to enjoy the events.”
“Personally, I don’t think it is the best idea, but it has the potential to be pleasant,” senior Natalie Martinez said. “If the weather is nice, I think it will be a lovely day. If the weather is not pleasant then I think having graduation here at school can result in a cramped, warm ceremony, that most of our family will not be able to fit into.” She added,
“I don’t think that the students or the parents have any kind of right to have a say in the location of our graduation,” senior Isabella Daley said. “I mean, it would be nice if the administration had asked for some input, but there is no reason that they had to ask for our input. They didn’t ask, and that’s fine, and it’s not a big deal that they didn’t ask us. It is ultimately their decision. We can be upset about it or accept it, but either way, there was a lot of thought and hard work that went into making that decision.”
She added, “It’s kind of like serenity prayer that we say a ton at McNick where we ask God to give us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change. It’s okay that we can’t change where graduation is this year, and we might as well move on from that because being mad about it isn’t going to make it any better.”
Beckert said that changing the graduation venue wasn’t supposed to upset students, but provide them the opportunity to make a final memory at McNick. “We are working very diligently to make this a special experience for our students,” she said.