R-2 directors table 2019 graduation day proposal

Roxanne Murphy

Parents and students at the June 18 Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education meeting requested directors consider moving graduation to a Sunday so it does not overlap state sporting events, particularly state track and field.

Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner said he had attached the academic calendar at the meeting, but the graduation date had not been set yet.

Parents and students addressed the board and said they were missing five of their party because they were at a track meet that was scheduled that evening.

“We wanted to see about moving graduation to a Sunday afternoon,” said Cathy Luther.

Parents argued that the Friday night graduation, which occasionally falls on a holiday, makes it harder for parents to request off from work and for families to travel in. The same parent also pointed out those who take off the Friday before a holiday or Monday afterward get docked.

One example parents used was a young lady last year that was running in state track. She ran her heat, waited to receive her state medal, then put her gown over her track suit, and barely made it to graduation.

“She had to rush home, the other kids were a nervous wreck, who knows if she would have even made it because of the nerves,” Luther pointed out. “Last year I watched as 20 of our track kiddos got on a bus, and barely got to say good-bye to their parents or have dinner with their families. They didn’t get to go to their Project Graduation celebration that they so look forward to. They loaded on a bus and traveled two hours to go to a track meet.”

Parents said most of the districts in the conferences around Owensville are moving their graduations to Thursdays or Mondays.

“I am just asking you guys to take a look at the dates, take a look at the kids and their accomplishments that are hanging on these walls,” she said. “We have sectional plaques, state plaques. This is so many, and it’s not just track. It could happen to soccer — these schedules are already made. If you could look at the districts, I know Belle is on a Sunday, Hermann went to a Thursday, Union is on Thursday, St. James went to a Sunday, St. Clair is on Sunday. The parents, there is nobody that is squabbling there because they love it. They can get together on a Sunday afternoon and have lunch.”

She said most of the ones on Sunday are around 2 p.m. after church services.

“They can have lunch and time to enjoy with their families.,” she said.

Board President Glenn Ely said it is okay to make a change.

“I know we have traditions,” he began. “But we would certainly entertain as a full board to come together as a group. We do not have to make any decisions now.”

Another parent, Ryan Rasmussen, asked to speak.

“I think the point is, ‘cause I can already hear the argument, ‘it is not convenient for me.’ So what if it is not convenient for you to show up then. You guys was all talking about this earlier. It’s about these kids. I don’t care if it’s ag kids, I don’t care if it’s the football team. I don’t care who it is and what group it is. These are kids that are excelling.”

He said these are not kids that are in trouble, because they would not be doing these things if they were.

“They excelled at what they are doing and this year they had to go to Carthage to go to state,” he said. His daughter, Bailey, was one of those kids. “I know sometimes track gets put off and they don’t think about it. Other things do too. But if the football team was playing for their state championship, would we say ‘we are going to sit you here all night, then put you on a bus and drive you to Carthage? You are not going to get any sleep and you have to stay up all night.' Are you really going to be excelling at what you are doing?”

He said it is not about what is convenient for him, Glenn (Ely), Bill (Seamon) or him and his wife .

“These kids have worked their whole life and this is their whole life,” he continued. “They deserve to be part of Project Graduation. They deserve to be part of the graduation itself and they deserve to go to these track meets — just like anyone else would.”

He reminded the board that no matter what day they set it on, people were going to be grumpy, they aren’t going to like it. 

“But that’s not the point. The point is these kids are part of the school too and deserve to go to these events too,” Rasmussen continued. 

Garner asked the board what they would like to do. “The quicker that gets set, the easier it is on folks to start ordering announcements and start making all those arrangements. We have set it anywhere from March to October,” he said.

The board asked for a calendar of events and tabled the discussion until the Monday, July 23, meeting.

Directors also renewed professional contracts and employed several members of their support staff at the June 25 meeting.

Renewed professional contracts for the 2018-19 school year with 6-0 votes included the Franklin County Special Education Co-op; Parents as Teachers Coordinator Services to Cindy Edwards; physical therapist contract for Diana Brandt; physical therapy assistant argeement with Andrea Hane; Therapy Lifetime Consultants, LLC agreement; speech and language therapy services from Paige Hammer; contract for the blind and visually impaired services teacher Alexandria Dawson; occupational therapist agreement with Maries County R-2; counseling service through Crider Health Services; and Integrity Home Care, Inc., for a nurse to attend to a student at school.

The board approved the employment of Melody Greenwalt, high school paraprofessional; Erin Kramme; middle school paraprofessional; Randy Joe Powell (pending clear background check) as an OMS custodian; Gregory Carpenter as substitute custodian; and Dayla Gruenloh, summer painter.