Push To Move Montclair High School Graduation To Woodman Field

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Last year, following Montclair High School’s annual commencement ceremonies, parents reported overcrowding and how family members holding tickets to graduation were left to watch the commencement standing behind a fence when the amphitheater became packed to capacity.

Meg Temkin, parent of an MHS senior, spoke about the issue at Monday night’s BOE meeting and read this letter to the board, asking them to consider changing the graduation venue to Woodman Field:

Dear Board of Ed:

Please move Montclair High School graduation to Woodman Field. Holding a safe ceremony in the amphitheater is no longer possible due to our ever increasing enrollment. Continuing to deny families reasonable, comfortable and safe access, as was the case last year, is unacceptable.

The move to Woodman is cost and labor efficient. In honor of past tradition, the ceremony will begin as seniors process over the bridge and walk together down Chestnut Street to Woodman. No street closures will be necessary. It’s simple to honor the past while we move forward to address the issues of safety and universal access created by our growing population. Your mission statement includes the belief that “supportive and engaged parents, guardians and members of our diverse community must be welcomed and encouraged to become active participants in the education of our students.” Please act on your stated belief and welcome us at graduation.

Each and and every graduate has earned the right to have family members watch them graduate. Each and every family has earned the right to attend their child’s graduation. Please act now to move graduation to Woodman Field so that no family is ever again turned away.

Meg Temkin
Parent- Class of 2018, 2020, 2024

Are you a parent of a graduating senior? What do you want to see Montclair High School do to address the concerns about commencement? Do you like the idea of preserving the tradition of walking over the bridge? Or is it impossible to imagine commencement in a different location?

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Absolutely not. Absolutely… not. Montclair’s rich graduation history of walking over the bridges over Tony’s brook onto the green, turning back to face their parents, and their beautiful high school is one of the most iconic high school graduation ceremonies around. Being a 6th generation Montclair resident, this is one of the infinite things that make this town unique. God, I am so sick of people trying to change every part of history of this town. You want your kids to graduate on a field, while sitting on metal bleachers, go to any of the surrounding towns.

  2. Couldn’t agree with Jimbo08 more. The Montclair graduation experience was one of a kind for me, my mother, my grandfather, grandmother and many extended family members who’ve experienced it as graduates. It’s worked for years and will continue to work going forward. STOP TRYING TO CHANGE MONTCLAIR

  3. One problem is that after walking over the bridge many seniors do not turn back to face their parents or family because some parents could not even get into the venue. How is the school/Bd of Ed. being responsible if they give out more tickets than what the venue can hold? is it fair to ask parents to take off hours early from work to get a seat in hopes of being able to see a child graduate? some people work hourly and that could pose an economic hardship for them. Nobody WANTS to change the venue but if the venue cannot accommodate all parents then the tradition is certainly not special for those who are excluded

  4. I am a parent of a 2017 graduate. While traditions are important, the situation last year was untenable. People being turned away, crowding on the walkways so the graduates could not get by, people pushing to get a view.

    The high school is getting bigger we need an alternative. The class of 2021 has over 560 students. Will there be only 1 ticket per student?

    Change is hard but necessary.

  5. Ok, this has always (traditionally) been one of the most uncomfortable venues for a ceremony of this size. It really has nothing to do with class size. We had were bigger classes back in the day.

    The point being is that this is a family event and we should encourage/allow for as many family/friends/etc. as we can provide. Move it to Woodman.

    If you want the trapping of some Greek mythology, have a pre-graduation photo op w/ the parents in the amphitheater. The light there will be perfect at 6pm. 20 years later the photos will still be great no one will know the diplomas were handed out on an astroturf field the MEC loves.

  6. I am totally in agreement with jimbo08 & Mtc4life.
    Unless you were mountie born and mountie bred you have no clue of what tradition really is.
    Over the last 10 to 15 years people moving to montclair have steadily tried to change so many of our quaint little towns traditions.
    ….Tonys Brook is a must …and if each student gets 2 tickets (and adhears to the rules of 2 tickets) our traditional space can accommodate them.

    CHANGE….Ok, How about have the traditional graduation with 2 tickets per parent ….after graduation have the graduates to March down to Woodman field (possibly have a jumbo screen down there for extra people to watch) and receive the graduates after the traditional graduation.

    MHS Class of 1909, 1948, 1980, 1999, 2011, 2013, 2019, 2023…..

  7. Problem is, the culture of the parents of a lot of these kids as well has changed. My kids, ’08 ’05, 02, all had large classes as well but the parents were not pushing or shoving to see their child, taking up an exorbitant amount of space, complaining. I got out of work late for two of theirs and watched from park st and had no problem with it. People sat close, and maybe a little uncomfortable but seeing 7th generation walking across that bridge, taking me back to my graduation is unlike any experience there is. Let Montclair tradition’s live and stop, stop trying to change this town. You want to watch your kid graduate on a jumptron, move to bloomfield or cedar grove.

  8. Good point about seating space getting tighter. NJ’s obesity rate has double in the last 2 decades to now 1 in 4 all people are considered obese. As you can imagine, adults in the 40-60 age range drive the numbers up. 2 in 5 are obese. I’m considered obese. I disagree, of course.

  9. My kid is in the high school and we will both be unhappy if the graduation is changed. I’ll be glad to spend some more time in the gym to make sure I’m not taking up an inordinate amount of space. Would be good for all of us. Remember that boat that sank in Lake George?

  10. How about asking the students what they want? Students of MHS mostly have a strong appreciation for the amphitheatre space and I can almost guarantee they do not want to graduate at the football field…

  11. As a member of the class of 1962 who, because of rain, had to graduate in the then “new” Auditorium; I will always regret not being able to cross over the bridge. In fact, I am the only member of my immediate family from whom this great experience was taken. Both my mother and father crossed over the bridge as did my younger brother and then my daughter who graduated from MHS in 1991. Crossing over the bridge is a treasured and symbolic Montclair High School tradition that should remain. Perhaps the administration should consider limiting the number of tickets given to each family.

  12. Interestingly, I have a senior at the high school who conducted a poll on FB. The results from the students are: Students who would rather have more family members attend at Woodman Field are more than double the number of students who would rather have the ceremony in the amphitheater. Fortunately, the proposed idea does have students cross the bridge before proceeding to Woodman Field for the graduation ceremony, thus continuing the tradition but allowing everyone that wants to attend access to the ceremony. Win/Win

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