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Lodi, Tokay students won’t graduate at Grape Bowl this year

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Posted: Friday, March 8, 2013 5:24 pm

Members of the Class of 2013 from Lodi and Tokay high schools will not be walking across the iconic Lodi Grape Bowl football field to receive their diplomas upon graduation.

City staff said they can’t promise construction at the Grape Bowl will be complete by the end of May, according to Dawn Vetica, Lodi Unified School District’s assistant superintendent of secondary education.

Instead, Lodi seniors will turn their tassels and toss their mortar boards at the A.G. Spanos Center at University of the Pacific in Stockton. McNair High School has held graduation ceremonies at the Spanos Center since the school opened in 2005. This will be a one-time change of venue. The Class of 2014 will return to the Grape Bowl.

In September 2012, the Lodi City Council voted to begin construction in November on the $1.7 million Grape Bowl renovation project, to allow the graduation tradition to continue.

“We took a chance in starting the construction, knowing full well we would possibly run into a rainy season,” said Councilman Bob Johnson.

While extreme rain hasn’t materialized, the district needed ample time to plan three ceremonies. Councilman Phil Katzakian said the change in venue was a “just in case” measure.

“The goal was to get as much done as possible,” he said. “It’s been a tradition forever.”

The decision was made at the end of January, and students were notified about two weeks ago. Though the venue is officially reserved, Vetica does not yet have a contract or the final cost.

“When you’re planning, you need to know the place will be available. There are people in the city who graduated at the Grape Bowl and would love to see the tradition continue, but it’s one of those things,” said Vetica.

Lodi High will graduate on Wednesday, May 22, while Tokay High will hold their ceremony on Thursday, May 23. McNair will have their graduation on May 24. The district will provide transportation to graduation practices, but students and families must find their own way to the ceremony.

Project manager Paul Bickford said the Grape Bowl construction contract runs through July. The hope was that if construction went well, the renovation could stall at a stage to allow the ceremonies to go on. But Lodi Unified didn’t want to risk it.

“I’m afraid what may look bad is if we do finish before graduation,” said Bickford.

In the next month, area residents will see a new walkway installed at the Grape Bowl, and the former ramp area covered in new landscaping. Once concrete is poured, fencing and metal railings can be installed. The design for the concession stand and bathrooms is still in the works.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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8 comments:

  • Jackson Scott posted at 5:20 pm on Mon, Mar 11, 2013.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    Oh Doug, lighten up. Have you ever been to a Liberty High graduation on the field at HSS? I have when my niece graduated in 2010. It was a zoo for that small crowd. Just where would the families sit? Where would the 1000's of guests park? I'm sure the neighbors would love to have several thousands invade their small park.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 12:51 pm on Sun, Mar 10, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    Mr. Scott, please tell me where you would be able to post your dress code for me so I can dress appropriately when I'm near your presence? LOL

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:52 pm on Sat, Mar 9, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    Who says they need to use the auditorium? You'd rather see the graduation ceremonies held in Stockton? Why not an outdoor ceremony at HSS? The Grape Bowl holds their ceremonies outdoors, don't they? When my son graduated in 1992 there was a terrible rainstorm on that day that affected the ceremony. So why not use the Grape Bowl? Is there something there to hide?

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:47 pm on Sat, Mar 9, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    Mr. Scott, why do you say these are unfounded? They are assumptions knowing the corruption that goes on at city hall and orchestrated by the three amigos to pander to their puppetmasters while lining their own pockets. When will COL start using the facilities at HSS instead of using it as a black hole of debt yo the tune of around a million dollars a year? A $1 a year lease and free maintenance and utilities all those years for Camp Hutchins, a low cost day care program for the well connected and good old boys referrals? Why do business entities that get government welfare from the COL not use those facilities rather than the overpriced Wine & Roses? With the COL giving away freebies like those it is no wonder HSS is in the red year after year. And, Mr. Scott, if it offends you the way I look and what I wear, then maybe you should look the other way? I wear what my wife thinks I look good i that she purchases for me. Being a construction worker most of my life never required me to wear those fancy clothes just to impress people. For 69 years old, I keep myself in the best physical and mental shape I am capable of and that's more than I can say for most Lodians my age. Just what is it you want me to do to meet your expectations, your highness?

     
  • Jackson Scott posted at 1:48 pm on Sat, Mar 9, 2013.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    And BTW, the capacity of the HSS Auditorium is in the mid 700's as I recall, maybe 800, but far too small to hold high school graduations.

     
  • Jackson Scott posted at 1:47 pm on Sat, Mar 9, 2013.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    Doug, why don't you take all of your contract questions to Public Works, Wally Sandlien(sp?), or Rad Bartlam. Your unfound theories is just mud slinging. But that's what you do in all of your posts.

    Funny, I've never heard of the HSS Auditorium referred to as the Lange Taj Mahal. I understand you have issues with the budgeting at HSS now, but without Mrs Lange's strong will & backbone during the 80's the old LUHS site would never, ever, turned out so wonderful. But that too was another poison arrow at a person who has worked her tail off to be successful, and who's family are grape growers and now winery owners. Your loathing for anyone who has worked hard and became wealthy is unattractive... like those muscle shirts you wear, lol.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:34 pm on Fri, Mar 8, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    My son graduated from Lodi high in 1992 and the ceremonies were at the Grape Bowl and it has great sentimental value to my family also. You'd think the excess money paid to Diede Construction would give them some incentive to make a concerted effort to at least have the Grape Bowl ready for the graduation ceremonies. I see work going on there with underground infrastructure that doesn't seem to be in the contract details and seems to be holding the project up? Is that extra work given Diede so they could lower their bid to get the contract, by any chance? And just what work is that, not only on the property but on Stockton street too? What does that work have to do with the contract or is it part of the contract agreement? It looks like either, water, sewer or drainage of some sort and large diameter piping? Is that what is holding this project up and why, if so.? If it is not part of the contract agreement, who is doing the work and was it put out for bid or just snuck in there like the project for the unnecessary and unneeded water treatment plant that was installed under the guise of a SJ county project? The county supervisors said it was included in work they were doing on Lower Sac north of Turner, either the third or fourth time the same small stretch of road was once again torn up for more infrastructure work and the city of Lodi used their other good old boy contractor AM Stephens, I believe, to do the work and I don't ever remember seeing a public notice ad in the Sentinel putting that work out for bid. With all that million bucks that Waste management "donated" to the Grape Bowl renovation project, of course with the city of Lodi manager and council in return giving them a free seven year extension on their contract, no bid at that, you'd expect the city manager and council demand that any contract work would not interfere with the traditional Grape Bowl graduation ceremonies that are a part of life in Lodi. Just another tale in the saga of the three amigos? And rather tan Spanos center in Stockton, why not the Hutchins Street Square facilities, the old renovated Lodi High, many known to call it the Lange Taj Mahal of Lodi? It is a disgrace that LUSD turns to Stockton for their graduation ceremonies.

     
  • Jackson Scott posted at 6:33 pm on Fri, Mar 8, 2013.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    Our entire family is upset with this, especially our LHS Senior Daughter. She watched her older brother & sister graduate at the Grape Bowl. The same GB that both her parents and all four of her grandparents celebrated our graduations.

    I'm sure with this decision will come the final nail in the coffin of the flower girls, one of LHS's best traditions.

     

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Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 100

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