A love of tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril; but the new view must come, the world must roll forward.
-WINSTON CHURCHILL, speech, Nov. 29, 1944
The Morgan County School Board was faced with an interesting challenge on Tuesday that brought to view the faces of the past, present, and future. A group of courageous and conscientious student leaders, community council members, and concerned parents made a compelling case to move to a new venue for the annual Morgan High School graduation ceremonies.
Their reasoning was twofold:
1) Graduates are limited in the number of family members who can be present in the auditorium due to seating restrictions. Generally, graduates are given four seating tickets for the exercise in the auditorium. They face the difficult decision of selecting those four participants. Should the tickets go to their parents and siblings? What about grandparents? How do you tell one set of grandparents they can sit in the auditorium and the other set they will have to go to the gym and watch the ceremonies on screen?
2) Graduation should be a family affair. Limiting those who can participate in the ceremonies, divides family interactions and the social impact of celebrating one of life’s most important passages. Parents want to surround themselves with the immediate family on this momentous occasion. Unfortunately, due to the present seating limitations, this family event is disrupted and disjointed.
According to the group, both a majority of students and parents are requesting the change. They understand the importance of traditions, but strongly believe the venue for graduation can be altered without diminishing from the importance of the occasion.
Of course, there are some students and parents who still believe it to be important to hold graduation at the high school. Board member Ken Durrant spoke eloquently about the history of Morgan High School and the sense of community created by traditions at the institution. He related how “M” Day had dwindled into non-existence over time. The tradition brought high school students together, once a year just prior to graduation, to dress and whitewash the “M”, and to clean up the school grounds and other sections of the community. Today, “M” day sees a handful of seniors grooming the “M” and a few working on a specific area of the school grounds or community. Many seniors and most underclassmen have no involvement in the event.
As a side note, in the past the “M” was lit using gallon cans filled with mattress batting and diesel. Today it is lighted with LED lights and two generators. Using this new tradition, the likelihood of a fire and the limited time of it being aglow have been replaced with little or no threat of fire and an edifice that can remain bright until the rising of the sun the next morning.
In the end four of the five members of the Board agreed to move the venue to another site. Their action was a result of considerable deliberation and thought. They concluded it to be in the best interests of families to do so.
The 2012 graduation exercises for Morgan High will be held in the Dee Events Center on the campus of Weber State University. The ceremonies will be held in the afternoon. Graduates and their families are encouraged to return to Morgan High School following their time together for a ceremony prior to lighting the “M” and the beginning of Operation Graduation events at the school.
The Board has also charged the students with creating ways to bring back vestiges of the past in terms of providing community service during the week of graduation and creating a new tradition that strengthens yesterday and today with tomorrow. The Board has also insisted that next February the Class of 2013 and the community council report back on the success of the venue change and if it would be possible to use the then completed and operational Trojan Century Center as the site of the ceremonies.