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Letter to the editor: Graduation policy alienates visiting grandfather

Published on June 12, 2017 3:59PM


My granddaughter graduated this year and the commencement happened to fall on the last day of a vacation planned 9 months prior. I cut short my vacation to attend the ceremony in Hermiston and rode with a friend from Moses Lake. As the lines at the high school are usually very long and wanting to get a good seat, we left Moses Lake at 6 a.m. the morning of and were in line by 9 a.m. that day.

Now, this is the second granddaughter that has graduated from Hermiston High and at the last commencement I found the bleacher seats to be very uncomfortable. I knew this would be a problem for my friend, as he has a weak bladder and joint problems that make it hard to just sit for hours without either needing a bathroom break, or getting up to loosen stiff joints. This was not a problem at the last commencement ceremony as we were allowed to come and go as necessary. I decided to purchase two stadium seats at $40 each to make myself and my friend more comfortable.

The high school published a document listing “Important Senior Information” about the place and time of the ceremony including a bold statement that “There will be no admittance into the gymnasium after the ceremony has begun.” To me, that meant be on time so the ceremony can proceed as scheduled. I and my friend had great seats near the entrance in case my friend needed to stretch or use the facilities.

On arrival, we surrendered our tickets and had our hands stamped, presumably to allow us to come and go as needed. I noticed two sheriff deputies manning the doors that were closed at the beginning of the proceedings.

After about 45 minutes, my friend had to stretch his legs and left the gymnasium. Apparently he and several other people, who needed to leave, were told that if they left, they would not be allowed to return. This is certainly not the interpretation I expected to the no admittance statement. After about 30 minutes I became concerned for my friend and decided I could not, in good conscience, sit and watch the ceremony while my friend was locked out. I decided to leave and on the way out was told that I would not be allowed to return.

This was a horrible decision on behalf of the Hermiston High administration. Effectively ostracizing a person from the proceedings because they needed a bathroom break or to stretch their legs. As a result of this rule, I and my friend missed my granddaughter’s graduation and subsequently returned to Moses Lake.

I have one more granddaughter that will graduate from Hermiston High next year, but I will forgo the invitation to return to Hermiston for the ceremony.

Robert Johnson

Moses Lake



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