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Students: When do we graduate?
Board honors teacher for quick actions in fire
More than 20 anxious Warwick seniors packed Tuesday’s school board meeting to talk about graduation.
A date for commencement has not been set, and according to Superintendent Dr. April Hershey the board’s annual practice is to set the date at its March meeting.
Speaking for the students in attendance, seniors Hannah Riden and Lea Zikmund expressed concern about the impact of snow days on the end of the school year. Riden highlighted fears of not meeting upcoming college start dates; she will be attending Penn State for summer classes and will need to move into her dorm room on June 28.
“Myself and a handful of fellow students have run into a major issue; no graduation date has been set yet,” she said. “Lack of a set graduation date and the impending snow affects the entire student body, their entire family, and their friends… The list could go on and on about why setting a graduation day is important.”
Zikmund, senior class treasurer, will also be attending college early. She noted some students have plans to enter into military service or begin jobs after high school.
“I am not requesting that we necessarily set an early date for graduation, but simply asking that it be set so we can plan accordingly,” said Zikmund. “It’s no secret this year has given us our fair share of snow, and we cannot predict what weather will continue … this could potentially add several more days onto the end of the school year. However, for seniors that have plans such as the ones I have mentioned it is important we know the date as soon as possible.”
Hershey admitted the district is looking at alternative measures to complete the required 180 state-mandated days of schooling, which have been affected by weather cancellations this winter, but said weather is not the driving force for not setting a graduation date prior to Tuesday. She also addressed suggestions she received from other individuals, like holding classes on Saturdays to make up for lost time. The Commonwealth does not allow for public schools to operate on Saturdays, she explained.
“First, thank you to all of you for being here and thank you ladies, you were eloquent … and we appreciate the respectful way you brought your concerns,” said Hershey. “Warwick School District always chooses graduation in March, at the March board meeting. There will be a date on the third Tuesday night in March – the same time, the same place, the third Tuesday in March. That’s the traditional way it has always been done here because of some of the ways our calendar is a little bit tricky.”
Hershey invited students and parents to observe notices on the district’s website and Facebook page. She stated some days cannot be considered snow make up days because the district starts school after Labor Day.
In related news, the board approved the 2014-15 school year calendar. As customary, the first day of school will fall after Labor Day on Sept. 3. Holiday vacation runs from Dec. 24 until Jan. 4, 2015. The proposed last day of school for next year is June 9, 2015.
Going back in time, the board also set a graduation date for Bruce B. Wike, who would have graduated in 1947. A special diploma presentation will take place on the WWII veteran’s birthday later this month. Wike served as a merchant marine and as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard. Both motions were unanimously approved by the board.
On Tuesday, the district also presented a certificate of heroism to long-term substitute Lacie Buxton. According to published reports, on Thursday, Feb. 6 a fire started in a trash can in a science classroom at Warwick High School. Hershey explained Buxton pulled the fire alarm, helped evacuate students and staff, and extinguished the fire. Reports indicate smoke needed to be vented from the room before students were allowed to reenter the building.
“Thank you so much,” said Hershey as she handed Buxton the citation.
Hershey was not the only one in attendance. Lititz Fire Company Assistant Chief Mike Michael had many kind words for Buxton, and he presented her with a fire mark.
“I want to thank (Buxton) for doing such a fine job; apparently it was her second day at work. It put a little extra pressure on her, but she immediately recognized what needed to happen. Her ability to keep (and) maintain her composure, actually, at the end of the day made our day a lot easier,” said Michael. “In appreciation we are going to present her with a fire mark. Fire mark’s go back about 200 years … and basically, in the old days, if you didn’t subscribe to the local fire department and you didn’t have a fire mark on your residence the fire department would get there and … they’d let the property burn and protect the next one that did.”
Buxton’s family also attended the meeting.
Michael C. Upton is a freelance school board beat reporter for the Record Express. He invites your comments and suggestions at facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.