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Where to hold graduation?

The 2010 Bainbridge High School graduation ceremony will remain at the school gymnasium on campus after the Decatur County Board of Education took no action at the monthly board meeting Thursday night.

However, the board decided to discuss the subject further at the March 18 board meeting and make a final decision.

Last October, the board voted to move the graduation ceremony from Centennial Field to the school gym at the request of the Bainbridge High School council. The school council consists of parents and community members with no student representation.

As background, state law mandates the school council’s existence and composition. The council members include the school principal, at least two certified teachers, and parents of which two must be businesspersons. Other members may be added based on the local council’s bylaws.

During the board meeting in January, Bainbridge High School senior Sunnie Chason addressed the board and presented a petition signed by the majority of the senior class asking the board to reconsider their decision.

Chason indicated that the students were concerned about the limited space available for guests to attend the ceremony if held in the gymnasium. The students also wished to participate in traditional ceremony, held at night, at Centennial Field.

According to Bainbridge High School Principal Tommie Howell, each graduating senior would be allocated six tickets to the event and would be able to request two additional tickets if needed. It was earlier reported that each student would be allocated four tickets to the event. Attendees at previous graduation ceremonies at Centennial Field were not required to have tickets.

In addressing the board, Howell said that the school council had met twice since the January meeting and their recommendation remained the same, to move the ceremony to the gym. The majority of the students, however, favor leaving the ceremony at Centennial Field.

Board Member Bobby Barber asked Howell why the council wished to move the ceremony to gym.

“Crowd control and weather are the two reasons,” Howell said. “The students’ main issue with the move is with the tickets and the tradition aspect.”

In response to a question from Board Member Winston Rollins, Howell indicated that “significant” man hours in preparation time would be saved by holding the event at the gym rather than the football field.

Board Chairman Sydney Cochran said, “I feel that this is the kids’ time, and if they want it at the football field, that’s where it needs to be.”

Board Member Randall Jones echoed Cochran’s feelings, “If the majority of the kids want it there, I am in favor of it.”

Barber said that while he supports the students’ desire for the event to remain at the football field, the ceremony was much more dignified and professional while at the Coliseum last year, moved because of rainy weather.

“But at some point, I also think, that if we want to move it, we need to make the point and move it,” Barber said.

Based on the board’s desire to give more consideration to the matter, the decision was made to table the discussion until the board’s next meeting in March to make the final determination of where the event will be held.

In other business, the board voted to contract with King-Cooper & Associates, based in Thomaston, Ga., to facilitate the search for the next superintendent. The board heard presentations from representatives of King-Cooper & Associates and the Georgia School Board Association.

In a vote of 4-2 the board decided to use the services of King-Cooper & Associates at a cost of $7,300.

Cochran, Barber, Jones and Jacky Grubbs voted in favor while Rollins and Clarissa Kendrick voted to hire the Georgia School Board Association to facilitate the search.