Graduation

Mount Vernon High School hosts graduation ceremonies in its gym on June 10, 2016.

MOUNT VERNON — In a break from tradition, Mount Vernon High School will hold its graduation ceremony this spring somewhere other than on its home turf.

The Mount Vernon School Board on Wednesday approved a resolution to change the date and location of the high school’s June graduation.

The ceremony will be held June 5 at Angel of The Winds Arena in Everett.

“It’s probably way past due that we’ve done this,” said board member Wendy Ragusa, who is also a Mount Vernon High School graduate.

Even with limiting the number of tickets available to each graduate, the graduation ceremony has outgrown the school’s gym, high school Principal Terri Wattawa said.

“To limit it to four people and have (graduates) not be able to celebrate with their whole families, it’s really heartbreaking to me,” Wattawa said. “It really comes down to an equity issue.”

After last year’s graduation, Wattawa said she began exploring other venues, including two in Bellingham — Civic Field and Western Washington University.

Skagit Valley College’s McIntyre Hall is not big enough, nor is the high school’s football stadium, which is also unprotected from the elements.

Having two smaller graduations instead of one large one was also explored, she said, but was found not to be a suitable option.

“It divided the senior class,” she said.

Angel of the Winds Arena already hosts graduation ceremonies, she said, and is equipped for large crowds, meaning graduates can have as many guests as they want. It also has a large video screen to improve viewing.

Of the senior class, Wattawa said 93% were in favor of having the ceremony at the arena. About 75% of parents and guardians also supported the decision, according to a district survey.

However, the venue was not available for the school’s scheduled June 12 graduation, leading to a change in date.

The venue costs about $15,000, which the district will be able to absorb. The district will also provide transportation for all graduates, as well as provide transportation for families that need it.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141, kwanielista@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kera_SVH, facebook.com/KeraReports

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