QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - The Quakertown Community High School Class of 2018 has spoken and will graduate indoors at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem.
The Quakertown school board on Thursday voted 7-1 to change June's graduation venue from the Quakertown High School Alumni Field or the PPL Center in Allentown to Stabler. Voting in opposition was board member Stephen Ripper.
The change is permanent, until a board votes to alter any changes in the future.
Speaking on behalf of the Class of 2018 was senior Ben Wackerman, who argued Alumni Field was an inconvenient location to hold graduation. Wackerman cited weather and accessibility as being issues, among a host of others.
"Alumni Field is not the place," Wackerman said. "We the Class of 2018 have given 13 years to this school district. We feel it's only right that we and the classes after us be able to graduate indoors."
District Superintendent William Harner noted survey results recently revealed four students voted to hold graduation at Alumni Field, 370 at the PPL Center and roughly 400 at Stabler.
High school graduation had been held at Alumni Field for nearly 60 years.
Board member Ronald Jackson asked Wackerman why Alumni Field is an improper venue. Specifically, Jackson asked what is so different about families today than in the past.
Wackerman said many families today do not live in Quakertown borough.
"How many people lived in Quakertown that many years ago," Wackerman asked. "A lot of events happen at Alumni Field. Graduation doesn't have to be one of them."
Wackerman also asked Jackson if he noticed how many individuals attended graduation at the PPL Center last year. Jackson said he did.
"I'm sure that many people wouldn't fit in Alumni Field," Wackerman said.
Board President Paul Stepanoff commented the that district spends $19,000 per student each year and $250,000 over a 13-year period. There are 5,400 students currently enrolled as students in the district.
"You're not only here one year, you're here 13 years," Stepanoff said.
Stepanoff stressed the whole community pays for the students, not just a student's parents.
"It's something that is important to a lot of people who are willing to pay for this," Wackerman said of the change in venue.
The Class of 2018 has done its part and is an inspiration, Harner said.
"These students are our leaders," Harner said. "They have stepped up to the plate. They have done a great job. I believe they have come clearly in good faith to support a change of venue back to Stabler."
Jackson stressed the board make the change to Stabler a permanent feature going forward. Stepanoff also noted two to three tickets per family will be distributed free. Families who want additional tickets will have to pay for them.
Allentown, PA 18102