The great outdoors is a great place for graduation, and a large group of Chelsea seniors are pushing to get their big day under the blue skies once again.
Manuel Teshe and Senior Class President Jocelyn Poste have been campaigning with a large group of their classmates to get their graduation ceremony outside. Graduation has been in the gym for several years, but prior to that it was always outside. Now, the students are looking to overcome several obstacles to get the graduation on the new turf Stadium.
“We understand we have to protect the field for future classes, but we really want to have this ceremony outside,” he said, noting that they have started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the effort. “This is a beautiful new field and we want to be able to use it. We won’t stop until we get the Stadium.”
Supt. Mary Bourque reported that the School Committee has approved the move outside, but getting on the turf field is something they are trying to work out with the company. There are some steps to take, she said, to preserve the warranty if graduation is held on the field in the first year after construction.
“We are very proud to have the School Committee vote to support the students request to have graduation outside,” she said. “The location is still to be determined though. It is going to be outside, but we still are all working together on the Stadium piece.”
School Committeeman Julio Hernandez said he supports the seniors, and recalls that his class tried to also get graduation outside, but to no avail. He said he encouraged students to work with the School Committee and the City Council, which they have been doing.
“These students are really fighting to have their big day outside at the Stadium and I support them 100 percent,” he said. “My graduation was inside and I didn’t get to bring two of my siblings because I didn’t have enough tickets. The graduation is one of the biggest days for the students and their families. My class wasn’t successful in getting it outside, like many other classes. I would love to see it outside again, and I hope they are successful.”
For the students, the primary reason to go outside is so that entire families can see the ceremony.
In recent years, as classes have swelled in numbers, many family members have to sit in the cafeteria to watch on closed circuit TV – or they aren’t able to come in at all.
Even a lucrative black market has sprung up over the years where kids auction off extra graduation tickets for as much as $200. One student last year allegedly made fake tickets and sold them to families in need, who were out of luck on the big day, Teshe said.
“I always knew graduation was inside, but didn’t think much about it,” said SairaCarreto. “Last year as a junior I volunteered to help and it really hit me when I saw the mothers, aunts and siblings of graduates waiting to get in. People were being sent into the auditorium and there were no tickets. Many of these kids are the first to graduate in their families. A lot of them have come from other countries and it’s a big point of pride for their family to come see them graduate. Not having the luxury to share that moment is not fair. We don’t want that to happen to our class and we believe the Stadium is the solution.”
Marcela Castillo said they don’t want to settle, and they will push for the Stadium.
“Many people don’t have the best view of Chelsea High students and we don’t deserve that,” she said. “Current and future students should get the best graduation possible. It’s a really important day in our lives. We feel that adults in our school have settled for less and we don’t feel it’s right. We’re going to push for the field.”
Bourque said they continue to work with the students and may have a solution in the coming weeks. That is all up to the warranty on the new field, but there is optimism in the situation, she said.
The fundraising page is on GoFundMe and is listed under Chelsea High School Graduation. Donations to help the cause can be made there.