Where will Prescott High School (PHS) graduation be held this year? What about next year, and the year after that?
It's a question that is swirling around Prescott, bringing confusion and consternation amongst parents and students alike. There is a rumor being propagated that the graduation ceremony will be held at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley for the next three or four years. But, that's only a rumor, it does not appear to be fact.
Where did the rumor start? Nobody knows, of course, but last night on Steve Blair's talk show on KYCA PM, a woman named Brandi called and said, "I just wnated to let the listeners know that tomorrow night is the school district board meeting, and a group of parents will be there to let their voices be heard, that they are against the graduation being moved to Tim's Toyota Center in perpetuity. From what I understand from some of the parents, they've already signed a four or five year deal with Tim's regardless of what the parents feel."
In addition, there is an online petition started by Josh Spivey, called, "We endorse the Keep PHS Graduation in Prescott, not Prescott Valley Petition to PUSD School Board." As of this afternoon, there are 1149 signatures on that petition.
When asked via email, Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Kapp responded briefly (in between meetings), "Totsy McCraley would know, but I am 99% sure no one has signed a multi-year contract with Tim's."
The issue is that there are several construction projects scheduled for Prescott High School planned to occur over the summer vacation. One of those projects is to resurface the bleachers at the PHS football field. Because of that, holding the 2009 Prescott High School Graduation at Tim's Toyota Center is a strong possibility. In 2008, for the first time ever, due to stormy weather, graduation was held at Tim's Toyota Center, the largest indoor location that PUSD could find at the time.
When Totsy McCraley, Principal of Prescott High School returned our phone call, almost the first words she said were, "No, no contract has been signed. I've never signed a piece of paper in my life with Tim's Toyota, nor has any of my assistants, and we have not even signed a contract for this year."
So, does that mean that graduation could still occur here in Prescott after all, despite the bleacher resurfacing scheduled to take place? "Well, we're looking at that, but the flip side is this, if we do move the graduation here, we run the real risk of not having enough time to do the construction projects that are slated for this summer. And I could just see how popular I would be if I were to tell a lot of parents come August 10, no we can't have school start here, because we're still under construction. Or perish the thought, heaven forbid that I have to arrange for a football game or two out at Bradshaw Mountain."
Jeff Adams is the PHS Student Body President. Adams explained, "This year we couldn't have graduation at the high school because the district had to do their bond projects, which included resurfacing the bleachers, and extending the cafeteria... So, we were told by the administration after the fact that this is how it is going to be and they had no control over it, but these projects had to be done. Which is understandable."
Adams seemed to be most frustrated by the perceived lack of communication as he said, "Now we just kind of have a situation where we've got some kids who are just now finding out about these projects and of course they're unhappy. And the Senior Class is a little reluctant to defend graduation now - they want it to be at the high school, but they also have been planning graduation at Tim's Toyota Center, and they're a little reluctant to kind of change - they just want to know where it's going to be at."
So, what would Adams prefer? "I personally like graduation at the high school, I feel that it's an important tradition because of all my family that's graduated there. It's just Prescott... I think for us, personally, it's important that we graduate at our high school. I do understand that they have to do bond projects, but I think they could compromise better and work with the public, or at least give the public a say. I do understand that it takes a long time to cure concrete, and it's a legitimate concern, and I feel like, if there's really no other option, then having graduation at Tim's Toyota Center, I'm fine with it, as long as it goes back to the high school after these projects are done."
"I do think it is a problem to have it permanently in Prescott Valley," Adams added.
According to McCraley, that's not something to worry over:
So, the long and short of this story is that nothing is set in concrete or stone, yet. No final decisions have been made other than that there is no longterm plan for Tim's Toyota Center to become the new graduation home for PHS students.
"We truly are looking at options," Kapp added.