Sandwich Fairgrounds being considered as site for I-LHS graduation

  • Published in Local News

MEREDITH — Pomp and circumstance may come to the Sandwich Fairgrounds in June if Inter-Lakes High School decides to take up an offer from the Sandwich Fair Committee for the free use of the facility for Class of 2012 graduation ceremony.

The possible move from Meadowbrook in Gilford, where the school has held recent graduation ceremonies, is being looked at due to concerns that the graduation will be held during Laconia Motorcycle Week, which will translate into traffic difficulties ...

MEREDITH — Pomp and circumstance may come to the Sandwich Fairgrounds in June if Inter-Lakes High School decides to take up an offer from the Sandwich Fair Committee for the free use of the facility for Class of 2012 graduation ceremony.

The possible move from Meadowbrook in Gilford, where the school has held recent graduation ceremonies, is being looked at due to concerns that the graduation will be held during Laconia Motorcycle Week, which will translate into traffic difficulties at the Weirs Channel Bridge, which has traditionally been closed to four-wheeled traffic during the Thursday through Saturday stretch of the annual rally.

And it is also motivated in part by a desire of many parents and students to hold the graduation ceremony within the three-town school district, rather than at an out-of-district site.

The high school is currently looking at a graduation date between Thursday, June 14 and Sunday, June 17 and those dates coincide with Bike Week.

Superintendent of Schools Phil McCormack said that Inter-Lakes High School Principal Patricia Kennelley met with parents of high school seniors Monday night to discuss the upcoming graduation and that a survey is being conducted of parents to see what graduation site they prefer.

School Board member Lisa Merrill of Meredith said that opinion among the parents appears to be split about 50-50 between Meadowbrook and an in-district site.

McCormack said that he and Kennelley met with Dan Peaslee, president of the Sandwich Fair Association, to check out the Sandwich site, most particularly the Arts and Crafts Barn, which measures about 40 by 80 feet, and came across the Burrows Building, which he said is even larger, about 50 by 100 feet.

He said that neither building, has great acoustics, but that the Arts and Crafts Barn has wiring and a sound system. In the event the site is chosen, porta potties would have to be used.

There was some discussion with Peaslee of using the small performance stage at the fairgrounds and putting a tent over the bleacher area but Peaslee said that it wasn't doable.

Other options to either Meadowbrook or the fairgrounds include using the upper soccer field at I-LHS and renting an outside tent which would measure 80 feet by 70 feet and seat 510 people, with sound included, for $4,900.

Board member Jack Carty of Meredith said that he was ''not enthusiastic about having a graduation in a barn. Parents and seniors deserve a class graduation'' and maintained that the school should be able to work out something with the Laconia Police Department in order to have the bridge at the Weirs open an hour before and an hour after the graduation to allow Meadowbrook to be used.

“With a little planning it can be done,'' said Carty, who was supported by a member of the audience who said that Bike Week traffic rules had been relaxed and that it was now up to local police to determine whether or not to close the Weirs bridge to traffic.

During the last couple of rallies, the bridge has only been closed on an as needed basis.

Carol Baggelly, board member from Center Harbor, said “Meadowbrook's great, but people like it local'' and pointed out that the parent survey should help give some direction as to the most preferred location.

One member of the audience said that Sandwich was considered last year as a graduation site and that there was a matter of local pride in having the graduation held at an in-district town. “Gilford is not in our school district. For students, having the graduation local is a part of their culture.''

The board also heard from Superintendent McCormack about a March 16 evacuation of Inter-Lakes High School caused by a boiler problem.

He said that the due to incomplete combustion carbon dioxide was being released into the atmosphere and was being drawn back in to the high school through air exchange units. In all some 40 to 50students were checked for CO2 levels and about a dozen had elevated levels and were treated with oxygen.

He said that as a result of the incident sensors will be installed at the intake of the air exchange units.

Richard Hanson was re-elected as school board chairman with only Baggelly voting against the move. John Martin was elected vice chairman and Sally Whalen as secretary.