Families of Rochester seniors won't have to worry about the weather on graduation day next June.
But they may need a map to figure out where they are headed.
announced this week the venue for all three high school graduations has been changed from , where it has been held for more than 15 years, to Ultimate Soccer in Pontiac.
All three high school principals and school district administrators agreed to the change. Some visited Ultimate Soccer during a graduation ceremony there last June.
It is a decision that goes against tradition.
"Obviously Meadow Brook is a beautiful facility," said Debbi Hartman, the district's communications specialist.
The main problem with Meadow Brook was the potential for a last-minute date change, Hartman said. A clause in the contract with Palace Sports and Entertainment, which manages Meadow Brook, gives the Palace the right to change the contracted dates for graduation ceremonies with 30 days' notice. Two years ago, Hartman said, the clause was invoked and the district had to change the date of 's graduation.
"It was a nightmare," she said. "We had grandparents who had purchased plane tickets. We had people mad at us. There were a lot of logistics to work out."
Last school year, the district was again presented with the possibility, on two separate occasions, of a date change. According to an email sent to Rochester High School parents on Wednesday morning, those changes were avoided only because the competing events did not materialize.
"Tradition can be a strong motivator to continue doing something even though it is no longer the only option to meet the needs of students, staff and families," stated the email, signed by the three high school principals, Superintendent Fred Clarke and assistant superintendents Geraldine Moore and Bill Mull.
"Hopefully, the decision to move the graduation ceremonies to a more accommodating environment will be the start of a new tradition."
Ultimate Soccer is on South Boulevard, west of Opdyke, in Pontiac. It is about five miles from Meadow Brook, is fully enclosed and air-conditioned. For graduation ceremonies, the turf is covered with rugs and folding chairs. Audience members sit in chairs and on bleachers. Several area high schools held graduation ceremonies there last year.
The venue change will save the school district $5,000, the email stated.
On the Rochester Patch Facebook page on Wednesday, parents expressed mixed emotions at the news.
"As someone who graduated from Adams in a freezing cold, soaking wet Meadow Brook, if Ultimate Soccer is indoors, I think it's great," said reader Natalie Gasiorowski. "Meadow Brook is wonderful, if the weather cooperates, but we live in Michigan, not southern California ... and the weather rarely cooperates, it seems."
"That's a shame," said reader Stephanie Jordan. "Meadowbrook is such a pretty venue, and a tradition!"
's graduation is June 5.
's graduation is June 6.
's graduation is June 7.
For photos from a graduation ceremony at Ultimate Soccer earlier this year, see on Royal Oak Patch.