Madison City high school students protest district's graduation changes

The district announced changes to the dates, number of tickets students are allotted and protocols Thursday night.

Posted: May 15, 2020 8:13 PM

Students from rival high schools joined together in protest Friday in front of the Madison City Schools district office.

It comes after the district announced changes to the high schools graduation this year.

Instead of June 29th, ceremonies for Bob Jones and James Clemens High School will now take place May 26th and 27th at the Madison Stadium.

Students are allotted four tickets, and have to go directly to their cars after the ceremony.

Each school is also having 2 ceremonies, students last names determine which one they go to.

It's a change that has many students upset. The students hope that this sit-in brings a message to the district that the changes made to their graduation should be reversed.

"Today and this graduation ceremony are one of the last things we had for each other, for ourselves," Nevaeh Eggleston, a James Clemens High School senior, said.

Eggleston organized Friday's protest. She said graduating with her friends is something they've been looking forward to for months.

"Since prom was cancelled since senior days were cancelled and senior events are cancelled, we can't have graduation parties this was our last thing to do together before we all leave," she said.

She said when she heard about the district's changes to their graduation ceremony she was upset, and knew others were, too.

"We can not see our friends graduate, we can not see our best friends that are in Z's - let's say their last names a Z we can not see them graduate," she said.

"We can't let our families be there to see us graduate. Some people with graduation being moved so quickly our families can't take off work. They can't get back from the Army, the military or things of that sort. They want to bring those students to our school and now we're rejecting them from seeing one of the biggest moments of their lives."

Madison City Schools sent WAAY 31 this statement:
"We love our seniors and are heartbroken over how COVID-19 has disrupted their senior year. i assure them that our faculty, staff and administrators are trying their best to give them a memorable graduation. while we respect their right to voice concerns regarding graduation plans, it must be emphasized that strict health and safety protocols must be followed. other venues were not available or posed similar social distancing limitations - including the VBC, which also would have required a split graduation in addition to the uncertainty over a possible forced COVID-19 cancellation."

Eggleston said she understands certain changes - but wishes there was another way to honor senior class.

"I understand that COVID19 is a deadly disease, I lost a family member to COVID-19, but I also understand that there are other avenues that Madison City schools could have went through and could've done to have a better outcome for us as seniors," she said.

Eggleston hopes the district hears their concerns.

"We are wanting our voices to be heard by our superintendent, by our interim superintendent, by our school board members we want them to know that we are listening to what they have to say but we also want them to heard what we have to say as well," she said

The students have also started an online petition they're bringing to the district about these changes.

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