Published Date Written by Mike MortensenGILFORD — Two more Lakes Region High Schools which hold commencement exercises at Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion are now working to revise their 2013 graduation plans after being informed their chosen dates had become unavailable because of recent concert bookings.
Gilford High School had planned to hold its graduation on Saturday, June 8, and Inter-Lakes High School was looking to hold its ceremonies two weeks later on Saturday, June 22. But officials with both schools said that Meadowbrook told them recently that musical acts had been booked for those dates and that the schools would need to make alternate arrangements.
Meadowbrook said the situation had come about because of a higher demand by musical groups to book dates in June than in past years.
Gilford Superintendent Kent Hemingway said Friday that he and other administrators were working to come up with a number of options for this year's graduation to present to the School Board for action. Hemingway said he expected the earliest that the School Board would act on the matter would be at its next scheduled meeting on Monday, Feb. 4.
The Inter-Lakes School Board is expected to deal with its graduation arrangements matter when it next meets on Feb. 12, according to Inter-Lakes High School Principal Patti Kennelly.
Belmont High School is the third school to be affected by the Meadowbrook schedule. On Thursday the Shaker Regional School Board voted to change the graduation date from Friday, June 7, to Sunday, June 9. At that meeting Shaker Superintendent Maria Dreyer told the board it was her understanding that Gilford was making plans to hold its graduation also on Sunday, June 9, soon after the Belmont High ceremonies had concluded.
But Hemingway said no decision had been made and that a number of options were under consideration. "We had a Plan A (for graduation)," he said referring to the June 8 date. "Now we are looking at Plan B, Plan C and Plan D." He declined to elaborate about the various options, explaining that he had not yet had a chance to confer with members of the School Board.
Similarly, Kennelly would not get specific as to how Inter-Lakes might address the situation.
Hemingway said that Gilford school officials had only learned on Tuesday that the date they had been planning on would not be available. He said the contract with Meadowbrook gives the concert venue the right to bump the graduation in favor of other events up until 60 days before the date and that Meadowbrook acted in accordance with that provision.
Emma Womack, Meadowbrook's vice president for corporate development, said that an unusually large number of concert bookings for June had made it necessary for Meadowbrook to tell the three schools that they would have to choose alternate dates for their graduations.
"We have to shift the dates (for graduation) around once in a while," she said, but added that Meadowbrook was working with officials at all three schools to find other dates and times which would almost certainly not conflict with forthcoming concert bookings. "We want to do everything possible to give them certainty" in their planning. "We are trying to be proactive."
But at the same time Womack said that Meadowbrook's main emphasis is booking concerts. "That's our business," she said.
Womack said that Meadowbrook first opened its venue to graduations about six years ago. She said that using Meadowbrook for graduations has proven popular with the graduates and their families. "We open our venue to schools because we want to be close to our communities," she said.
She characterized the need alter school graduation plans this year as "a bump in the road" and she did not think recent developments would make Meadowbrook any less viable as a setting for graduations in the coming years.
"Graduation is the most important day in their lives up to that point, and we love to be part of it," she said.
Shaker Regional is paying Meadbrook $2,000 to host Bemont's graduation.