Editorial: Time to change the graduation plan?

Posted 1/12/24

Nearly every public high school in Rhode Island has figured out that the best time to hold a graduation ceremony is not on a Saturday or a Sunday at the beginning of June. As the Barrington Times …

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Editorial: Time to change the graduation plan?


Nearly every public high school in Rhode Island has figured out that the best time to hold a graduation ceremony is not on a Saturday or a Sunday at the beginning of June. As the Barrington Times reported last week, an examination of 25 Rhode Island school districts showed that 21 of them — that’s 84 percent — are planning their Class of 2024 graduation exercises for a date other than Saturday, June 8, or Sunday, June 9.

Only two districts, Exeter-West Greenwich and Cranston, are planning graduation for that Saturday, and only two others, East Greenwich and Barrington, are planning it for that Sunday.

More than half of the public high schools will hold their graduation ceremonies prior to the weekend, with 14 of them scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, June 5, 6 or 7. The remainder all hold their graduations the following week, Thursday to Saturday, June 13 to 15.

Why do the vast majority avoid the weekend when Barrington traditionally holds its graduation? Because that weekend is riddled with conflicts for the graduating seniors.

The spring sports season is the most challenging of the three seasons in the Northeast. Lousy weather, combined with wet and sloppy fields (for the scarce few still playing on natural grass), make it difficult to start those outdoor sports programs until early to mid-April. When they finally do get rolling, there’s a hectic sprint to schedule all those games, playoffs and championships before the end of the school year, and as a result, several spring sports programs are still taking place when Barrington traditionally holds its graduation.

Additionally, Barrington has the tradition of hosting a “Friendship Service,” which turns graduation weekend into a two-day affair. So nearly every year, BHS seniors must make choices between attending their track championship or their class’s Friendship Service. Other years, state organizers have been forced to re-schedule lacrosse championships so that Barrington players can take part without missing their own graduation ceremony.

The point is, graduation weekend was a problem two years ago. It was a problem last year. It will be a problem this year. And it will be a problem every year.

Nearly every other high school in Rhode Island seems to have figured this out, which is why half of them hold their ceremony on a Friday evening. They avoid conflicts with the sports programs. They make life easier for families with out-of-town relatives traveling in for the big event. They make it easier to organize and host post-graduation celebrations. And they probably make life easier for high school faculty who attend and support the graduating class.

Barrington is quite fond of its traditions and occasionally gets stuck in its own past. This might be one of those times.

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.