At the latest Lodi Unified School District board meeting, the location of graduations at Tokay and Lodi high schools were discussed. The source of my opinion (the minority one) comes from being the valedictorian of the Tokay High School Class of 2014.
Tradition: The loud cry you hear from those who want graduation back at the Grape Bowl, but really, the main tradition, rushing the field after the ceremony is over, is no longer possible with the changes to the Grape Bowl. Of course, remaining in Lodi is another tradition, but a college auditorium has more dignity than a football field.
In addition to this, the seating capacity at the Grape Bowl severely lacks enough room for the graduates’ families and friends. Providing access to the north side of the field can fix this. Because the backs of the students cannot face one side of parents, they would have to be arranged east-west, and then the same “problem” that exists at University of the Pacific — not sitting face-to-face with the graduates — is created there as well.
This brings in the issue of the elements. Now, either the graduating seniors or the speakers will have to face into the sun for the ceremony. On top of that, the chances of heat or wind is quite daunting. At Pacific, there is no chance of uncomfortable temperatures or inability to hear speakers due to wind. As a speaker, I enjoyed being able to look upon both my peers and all the parents rather than having my back to one group, as I would have had with the current arrangements at the Grape Bowl.
Also, it is important to note that few of those who vehemently oppose Pacific as the venue have ever attended a graduation there, and it is quite ignorant to discount something such as this with no experience in both venues.
In the end, until the Grape Bowl is Americans with Disabilities Act-approved, graduation simply cannot be held there. And even then, is it really worth even more money from the city to remedy the structural problems when the problem of the elements can never be altered?