Parkway school board to vote on new graduation date for Central

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By Eric Berger, Staff Writer

The Parkway Board of Education will vote Thursday on whether to move the graduation for a high school with a significant Jewish student population from a Saturday to a Thursday.

The proposal follows a student petition and a backlash from parents over the board’s decision last month to hold graduations for all four of its high schools on Saturday, May 19 at the St. Charles Family Arena. That would have create a conflict for some Jewish students who do not drive and observe other restrictions on Shabbat. If approved, Parkway Central students would instead graduate on May 17 while the other three schools would hold ceremonies on May 19.

“We heard from our families that this Saturday graduation was inappropriate for several Central High students and we value each and every one of our students,” said Beth Feldman, board president.

It would cost the district an additional $10,000 to move the graduation and reserve the arena for a second day rather than have them all on the same day, according to a board document.

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But “if that that is what we need to do honor our students at their graduation, than that is what we need to do,” Feldman said.

The board voted Aug. 23 to move the schools’ graduation from Queeny Park to the St. Charles Family Arena. They made the change, in part, because at Queeny attendees often had to walk as far as half a mile from their cars to the ceremony along gravel roads and over hills, Feldman said.

There was also limited seating at the park — some of it high on bleachers — and each family was given a set number of tickets. At the arena, there is additional handicapped parking and families can bring as many people as they would like, among other advantages. The following Sunday had already been reserved by Wentzville School District, Feldman added.

After announcing the decision last month, a Parkway Central student started an online petition asking the district to move the graduation date and collected more than 2,000 signatures.