The case for graduation

March 16, 2016, 1:27 p.m. | By Lauren Frost | 8 years, 1 month ago

Why the County Council needs to allocate more graduation funding to larger schools

Envision yourself in your red or white robe, donning your cap on your head. Imagine your entire family up in the stands cheering loudly, excitedly and, admittedly, embarrassingly. You walk up to the stage when they call your name, firmly shaking the hand of your "proud principal” as you're handed your diploma.

After countless letters from Blair parents and staff, the Board of Education has proposed a budget that would add $113,000 for graduation for the biggest high schools in Montgomery County, including Montgomery Blair. The County Council needs to approve this proposed increase in order to give students the graduation they deserve. When imagining your graduation, what you don't think about is being trapped in a venue that is too small to fit your class. You don't imagine having to pick which of your siblings can't come because you only have four tickets. You don't want to consider having to to raise $15,000 so that your class has enough money to change graduation venues, adding more stress to the already hectic and expensive senior year costs. These are the current options for the future classes of Montgomery Blair High school and all of them would make the graduation more unpleasant.

Blair students fill the floor of Constitution Hall for graduation. Photo courtesy of Tran Pham.

The Montgomery County Public School budget currently allocates $5,000 to every high school for the purpose of graduation. With few exceptions, most schools hold their graduation at Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall. Schools are responsible for raising the additional $2,500 dollars to pay the outstanding cost of the venue. In the past, Blair has held graduation at Constitution hall. However, as the class sizes of Blair continue to grow, DAR will not be a viable option for our graduation. Blair is the biggest school in Montgomery County with a current current enrollment of 2,900 students. This year's senior class has a total of 628 students and are still able to fit in DAR. The following class of 2017, has almost 100 more students. This amount of students combined with the 200 Blair staff, members of the band and orchestra, and guests (limited to four tickets per person) put the class of 2017 over the 3,200 limit of Constitution Hall. Approving the budget and helping Blair to change locations will also allow for more guests to be invited to the ceremony making the day even more special for the graduate.

There are other options that would be excellent locations for Blair's graduation. The University of Maryland's Comcast Center and Montgomery College are both great options that would have more than enough space for future Blair classes to graduate. However, both of these cost more than DAR and the burden would be on the parents to raise $25,000 for the Comcast Center or $15,000 for Montgomery College.

For the County Council to ask the school community to raise that much money in a short amount of time, for an event that is a fundamental part of students' high school careers, is ridiculous. It becomes a huge burden on the parents of the student's to fund this event which should be a part of the experience their children receive as student of Montgomery County. Asking Blair parents to pay more for their student's graduation because MCPS has assigned so many kids to go to Blair is not fair to the students or the parents.

Many will argue that money could be going towards other aspects of education, and although $113,000 dollars is a large amount of money it is for a good cause. Graduation is the culmination of everything that a student has done in the past 12 years, and to many is one of the most important events of their life, it should be treated as such. Allocating the money now when the county has a little more leniency will also ensure that this problem is not present when the county has more pressing concerns for the money.

Currently, Blair is the only school that faces this over-capacity issue for graduation; however, it is projected that Montgomery County will have an increase of over 150,000 people by the year 2040 and as the population continues to grow, the amount of students will grow and more schools will face this problem. It is in the best interest of the county to face this problem head on by allocating the funding now instead of waiting until it becomes an even bigger issue. Though $113,000 is a major increase in the budget for graduation, approving the budget and allocating the money to be put towards graduation is not only the equitable choice, but the choice that will help students have the graduation that they have always dreamed of.

Tags: Board of Education graduation County Council

Lauren Frost. Hi, My name is Lauren Frost and I am a junior at Blair. I play basketball and tennis. Other than sports I enjoy reading and watching movies. More »

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