New Paltz High School students not happy with plans to hold graduation in the SUNY New Paltz gym

At their regular meeting on Wednesday, May 22, the New Paltz Central School District Board of Education (BOE) heard an impassioned plea from New Paltz High School class of 2019 senior class president, Evan Holland-Shepler. Reading from a letter signed by 100 members of the graduating class, he urged the BOE to reconsider the plan to hold graduation in the SUNY New Paltz gym again this year, rather than on the football field as is traditional.

The class members are “immensely excited” about graduation, Holland-Shepler said, “but we want to celebrate this on our turf. Last year graduation was held at the SUNY New Paltz gymnasium, to compensate for loud construction on Putt Corners. We were promised this would be temporary, so we were shocked to recently discover that graduation would be held at the gym again instead of the high school football field. Earlier in the year myself and other class officers were told we would choose where our graduation was to be held, and we requested the football field, but were denied by Ms. Rice [Superintendent of Schools Maria Rice] on the premise that the SUNY gym is already printed on the school calendar.”

Rice has refused to listen to their requests, he said, “and the class will not sit idly by” when it’s only “a simple location change.”


Holland-Shepler reminded the board, “We can still fix this. With 35 days until graduation, there’s ample time to change location, and send out any notices. Larger things have been done in less time.”

Graduation is “a very, very large thing,” he added. “And much like you, I was elected to represent my peers. We’re the children of the parents who voted you all into office. I hope you listen to the constituents directly affected by your decisions every day. We ask that the School Board compel Ms. Rice to hear our request, and have our graduation at the high school football field, heeding the wishes of the vast majority of our senior class. Please let us graduate on the football field; it would mean the world to us. It feels like a gut punch to not be able to graduate on the field that we’ve been imagining for 12 years.”

Superintendent Rice was not in attendance at the meeting. Deputy Superintendent Michelle Martoni sat at the table in Rice’s absence.

There are 9 comments

  1. D-Day

    You had 30 days from the time the calendar was printed and posted to challenge the document. Always.

    Chuck Berry ( “Another name for ‘Rock ‘n Roll’ said John Lennon) wrote a song about it in 1955 entitled “30 Days”.

    Thirty days.

    1. Bob

      Except they were told they could chose the location. No need to study a calendar for a location when you’ve been advised you’ll pick your own.

  2. Deborah fialkow

    The graduating class for 2019 should have their ceremony on their turf,(new,paltz,high school).

  3. Williston Academy Preppie

    Boycott! Get lawn chairs, a cheerleaders cardboard megaphone and an effigy of the superintendent to beat around the bush and have it out on the bleachers of high school field? Excellent!

  4. OMG

    Oh My Goodness! What a tragedy. These poor, innocent childrem will be scared for life. Their lives are ruined. And worst of all, there is no Wellness Center to console them. Life just doesn’t make sense.

  5. Pratzie

    I would think that the students would respect the decision of their superiors despite their disappointment. What does it matter where the ceremony is held? At least they’d have a roof over their heads in the case that storms or torrential rains upset the outdoor venue.

  6. formerstudent

    Seriously, who is the graduation for-the kids or the parents? If the kids want it at the school, their wishes should be granted. If grammy and grampy find it too hot, then maybe someone can record it for them, and they can watch in the comfort of their living room ac. Seems to me, it’s the people who want it at SUNY that are the selfish ones. It’s not about them or their comforts. It’s about the students who want to mark their last day at school graduating at the actual school that they attended.

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