Petition wants commencement back in Shelton

The Shelton High Class of 2018 is currently disappointed, but is determined to make its dreams come true.

On Friday, March 2, Shelton High School faculty announced that the 2018 graduation would be held at Nolan Field in Ansonia due to renovations set to begin in May and end in September.

Some seniors feel as though their special day has been ignored by the members of the Board of Education, according to Student Council President and DECA President Alexis Klimaszewski.

“For 13 years, we have watched SHS students graduate in Finn Stadium. Many students’ parents graduated on that field,” Klimaszewski said. “For four years, we dreamed of driving to our school for the last time, gathering in our auditorium, and walking out on our field together one last time. This field means nothing to us.”

According to Headmaster Dr. Beth Smith, the location change would allow students to have the same number of guests as it would have at their home field, where graduation typically takes place.  

The seniors acknowledge that they do not fully understand why the construction on Finn Stadium needs to happen immediately, according to senior Drama and Italian club member Serena Innaco.  

“I fail to understand why these renovations to the football field can’t be started the day after graduation. Yes, the football practices might have to be relocated for a few weeks into the new school year, although the same is currently happening for other sports,” Innaco said. “I am still planning on [attending] graduation, but with a feeling of disappointment because it won’t be as special not walking out of the school you went to for four years for your graduation.”

Despite their disappointment, most students are still planning on attending their graduation, according to senior Drama Club member Pallvi Goel.

“I wish that they could push back construction just until after we graduate. Despite my disappointment, I still want to attend my graduation,” Goel said. “It won’t be the same as it would be at Finn Stadium, but I want to end my high school career positively and with the people who made high school such a great time for me. I don’t think that this situation is stopping anyone from attending, thankfully.”

Other students are choosing to focus on the fact that this will be one of the most important days of their life yet, according to senior tennis player Saumya Shah.  

“I’m definitely going to graduate, and for me, the location isn’t nearly as important as reaching a milestone alongside my classmates and family,” Shah said. “I understand the need to renovate so that future athletes and students can use the field for many more years and the overall quality of the school facilities is improved.”

While the majority of the students who spoke to The Herald said they plan to attend graduation no matter its location, others said they plan to fight to have it in its “rightful place.”

“There’s a petition that already has gotten 764 supporters in just two days. These are all seniors, underclassmen, parents, and many alumni who are all asking for the same thing, renovations be started after graduation,” Klimaszewski said. “Our class has so much heart and school spirit, and we have worked so hard to rebuild from the past two years and make this school a happier place. How can I stay silent when the graduation I deserve is at stake?”

Class of 2018 President Jessica Reis urged anyone who is unhappy with the decision to host graduation in Ansonia to take action via a Facebook post to the group Shelton Moms.

“As class president, I think I speak for the class when I say this is incredibly unfair to all of the students who have spent years at Shelton High only to have graduation elsewhere. Not only is Ansonia not SHS, its bleachers and field are not anywhere close to as large as Shelton’s, and there is no way they will be able to accommodate for the families and friends of those graduating,” Reis said. “I encourage everyone to call the Board of Ed, town officials, and everyone involved, insisting that renovations be moved to either an earlier date so that it is done by graduation, or a later date, starting after graduation. If neither of these are possibilities, at least a venue that is more accommodating to the size of Shelton’s graduating class.”