BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Bentonville school board decides it will not host traditional ceremonies for its high schools.
Surveys were sent out to families for both Bentonville High School and Bentonville West High School so students could give their input on a graduation ceremony. The majority favored an option closer to a traditional setting but the board voted a different way.
“Graduation is always that last time to get together before all of the kids dissipate, we need this as a people,“ said James Brandenburg, a BHS parent.
Bentonville High school and Bentonville West High school seniors spent half of their last year of high school at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“He missed out on his soccer season, they missed out on their prom. These are all things they were really looking forward to and that’s been really hard for him,” said Brandenburg.
All of the students were given a graduation survey to fill out. It had three options to consider all limiting the number of guests.
1 – Full event outdoors in the stadium, with 4 guests and Livestream video
2 – Full event outdoors with graduates only, no guests and Livestream video
3 – Family walkthrough event with a compilation video and 10 guests.
Brandenburg said for his son the answer was obvious.
“Andrew and all of his friends essentially wanted a chance to get together.”
The majority agreed – out of 1224 graduates – 620 students responded. 431 voted for a full ceremony, while 189 voted for the family walkthrough event. The second option for a full outdoor event with no guests got no votes.
The school board voted 4 – 3 to support option three and host a family walkthrough event. Parents will be given directions to schedule an appointment between 7 am and 8 pm on their graduation date. The ceremony will also be compiled into a complete ceremony available online in August.
“When he found out last night that it voted the other way, the look on his face was just devastating as a parent,” said Brandenburg.
Bentonville Schools Communications Director Leslee Wright said the survey was an opportunity for students to share their opinions on the plans but not the final say.
In a statement she states…
“The board of education must consider all the information presented to them. the safety of our students and their families is our top priority and must also be taken into account.”
Brandenburg said he isn’t giving up hope.
“They should get back together, listen to the community and gage with people who have ideas on how we can do this safely and listen to the opinions of the kids they asked.”
Bentonville West High School – Thursday, July 16, in Wolverine Stadium
Bentonville High School – Friday, July 17, in Tiger Stadium
The rain date is Saturday, July 18.