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Midwest Central Middle School opts for less formal 8th grade graduation

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The transition from 8th grade to High School is often regarded as a milestone, but one school district is taking the pomp and circumstance out of that celebration.

Midwest Central Middle School in Green Valley is trading the cap and gown filled evening event, for a less formal ceremony.

At the school board meeting on November 14th a motion was passed to dissolve the traditional 8th grade graduation. The district said this is to place emphasis on the importance of obtaining a high school diploma instead.

But some parents feel this new ceremony will make it more difficult for them to be involved.

District leaders said they'll still recognize the importance and excitement of the rite of passage and will do so instead with a transition ceremony.

This will be held during the school day towards the end of the year. A letter was sent home to parents detailing the planned events of the day.

When the Davis family got their letter in January informing parents about the decision, they were filled with emotion.

"Last year in April I was diagnosed with stage four cancer. The doctors said that I probably have two to three years. I'm approaching year one so that gives me one to two. And if the math works out I don't make it to high school graduation, This is the only celebration or anything that I will be able, probably, to share with him." said 8th grade parent Robin Davis

"So we knew we had a couple of things to look forward to before then." said an emotional Tracy Davis, "And so when we got this letter it was very upsetting that they did not even ask (parents) how we felt about it. " 8

8th Grader Karsyn said she had been excited for graduation, especially since her older sister got to participate, but now the change from evening to day will be a hardship.

"They aren't going to tell us when the actual day of the promotion ceremony is until later, so my mom is going to have to get off work." said Karsyn

Parents who addressed the board at their school board meeting on Thursday said they are frustrated by a lack of input. They said it was just listed on the agenda in school board meetings with little detail on what would be discussed.

"I remember the Superintendent saying at high school graduation, 'Seniors look around look at your parents, look at your grandparents, look at your siblings and thank them because they're the reason why you're here. They're the reason why you graduated.' And I feel they have just taken that and brushed that aside for convenience of the staff." said 8th grade parent Kim Stevens

In a statement the Superintendent Dr. Todd Hellrigel said: " I want to assure you the District did not arrive at this change abruptly. Our Board of Education discussed the new format at three meetings. At no point in those meetings did anyone receive any negative feedback or concerns from the community. We understand, finishing the eighth grade is an accomplishment, but it is not the final chapter in a student's journey. We feel this change better reflects the idea that their journey is not over and encourages our students to set goals of graduating high school and having success later on in life."

Kaitlin Pearson

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