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Letter: There are good reasons to keep Lodi graduations in Stockton

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Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2014 12:00 am

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?

Kylie Henne


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Welcome to the discussion.


  • wendy coe posted at 6:39 am on Tue, Aug 5, 2014.

    wendy coe Posts: 39

    Call me old fashion, call me a traditionalist, but the beauty of the flower girls at Lodi's graduations can never be replaced. It totally made it a special place for graduates and families. Younger sisters of the graduates waited to be a flower girl. (Maybe an incentives for young ladies to graduate)

    Waiting to turn left into Pacific took my friends 20 mins. alone, I guess they were a little later than the gentleman below.

    Their seating ended up with looking at the back of the head of the graduate they came to honor.

    Regarding the letter above, I just think a configuration of the chairs for the graduates, etc. would allow the speakers not have their back to the graduates.

    Rushing the field could be solved I am sure.

    Lastly, this is a Lodi school graduation that should be held in LODI. The element of weather is something that we all endure by living in this beautiful valley. Maybe they could just put the graduates in the gyms without spectators at the schools, video the ceremony, make a CD for the families, and reduce all the costs that are being created by the graduations. The crowd control would not be an issue, the unruliness of the crowd blocking others to see and hear would not be an issue, and all graduate families could view it at their leisure in their controlled climate home. The dignity of graduation at a college can wait until they earned that right of a venue at a college.

    In the end, the cost would be substantially a savings. No maintenance issue of setting up, oh that reminds me. Did setting up Spanos Center cost the District anything or did UOP pay for all the set up?

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 11:36 am on Sat, Aug 2, 2014.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2111

    Here was my experience for the Tokay graduation at Pacific:

    1) initial annoyance was just getting there. The traffic control was non existent. It took me 15 minutes to drive to the turn in for the University and 35 minutes in traffic to get to a parking space. I had my son and his friend get out cause it was quicker for them to walk than wait for me to deal with the horrendous parking. AND while being ushered further and further from the auditorium for parking I passed several VACANT parking lots.

    2) the distance we had to sit away from the ceremony made my mid-level camera zoom useless. Thus We have NO usable photographs of my son's graduation.

    3) And most annoying was the way the auditorium was set up, with limited visibility forced family and friends into the walkway to see their child blocking the view for everyone else. Half the time were were there we could see the stage cause other families thought they deserved to stand and block everyone else's view.

    I have been to a few graduations from HS to college and Tokay's was probably the WORST coordinated and executed. I don't know what graduations were like at the Grape Bowl, but I can;t see how it could have been worst.


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