Education, Local News

D233 sticks with tradition, leaves commencement on a Sunday

H-F High graduating seniors stand during the 2023 commencement ceremony. (Chronicle file photo)

The Homewood-Flossmoor High School calendar for the 2023-24 school year was approved by the board and…

Wait, what?! Graduation is on a Thursday? 

Graduation for H-F has traditionally been on a Sunday. Families sit in the bleachers as students march onto the football field. They are arranged so that the students in red robes form the letters “H-F” on a sea of white created by students in white robes. 

For many families, their parties start after the ceremony. Sunday allows family members to travel for their graduate’s celebration, and students use the morning to get ready for their big day.

The tradition has been changed only when the weather is inclement, forcing the ceremony into the H-F High South Building gym with guests watching on TV screens in overflow rooms.

Changing that Vikings tradition wasn’t welcome by members of the class of 2024.

Principal Clinton Alexander said the intention was to have an evening ceremony that would keep guests out from the heat of the afternoon. Alexander said also a Thursday worked better for staff. There have been times when graduation falls on the Memorial Day weekend and that meant staff gave up their holiday time to be at school. 

“We thought it would be cooler on a Thursday evening, and we would get two perks: one would be more participation from our committed staff, and the temperature would not be as hot. We thought we probably would be able to produce a better product if it was on a Thursday,” Alexander said.

When Sari Zinnerman, Sani Zinnerman , Chayse Selvie, Ava Loudon and Jada Wallace, the officers of Student Government, realized the commencement date was changed, they were surprised, said Sari Zinnerman.  They started asking around to learn what their classmates thought of the idea.  It seemed no one was very happy.

Soon there was a petition drive asking for commencement to revert to Sunday. Students collected 200 signatures during lunch periods and classes. 

Then, Sari and Sani Zinnerman and Chayse Selvie shared the petitions with the school board when they spoke at the June 20 meeting. After they spoke, Board President Gerald Pauling told students he appreciated their stepping forward and delivering an excellent presentation. He promised the board and administration would discuss their concerns.

“Logistically it made sense, but it went against the tradition and passion of our students,” Alexander said. “Once we were made aware of that, we’re student-centered so we had to respond to our students because they’re the reason why we’re here and they’re the center of everything that we do.

“We kind of lost sight of their opinion. We realized it was more important. It kind of trumped everything else.” 

Graduation will hold to tradition. The class of 2024 commencement ceremony will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, June 2, on the H-F football field.

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