Keeping it in Harford

July 01, 2011

Graduation season has drawn to a close and members of Harford County's Class of 2011 are working on beginning the next stages of their lives. In a  little less than a year, as many parents are well aware, the Class of 2012 will take that next big step.

Graduation season, after all, is as predictable as the Fourth of July, so it makes perfect sense that Harford County Public Schools would be making plans for spring 2012 ceremonies even as those who just graduated are still feeling a sense of accomplishment.

There's a lot to like about the school system's high school graduation plan for 2012. First, the school system is again keeping Harford County graduations in Harford County. For a number of years not all that long ago, there was something of a trend of local high schools having their graduation ceremonies in Towson. There's nothing wrong with Towson; it's a fine place. Moving graduation ceremonies there, however, didn't provide much in the way of extra seats for the families of those graduating. Commencement ceremonies are funny that way. They involve a lot of people, notably members of the graduating class, so making accommodations for each graduate to have plenty of guests attend is almost always difficult regardless of the venue.

Still, holding a commencement ceremony does require a critical mass of seating, something that isn't necessarily available at every school in the county. This is reflected in the plan for graduation 2012 as Aberdeen, Bel Air and Edgewood high schools will serve as host sites for North Harford, C. Milton Wright, Fallston and Patterson Mill highs.

One nice tradition worth noting is that of North Harford travelling to Aberdeen for commencement. Begun out of necessity during the reconstruction of North Harford High and held at Aberdeen High because it was a new school with a sufficiently large facility, the practice has continued because the North Harford school community has felt welcomed by Aberdeen. This is a nice thing.

This tradition notwithstanding, though, it's worth noting that Harford County probably wouldn't have three graduation host site schools if the school system had its way when Bel Air High School was rebuilt. The school system wanted to build an auditorium half the size of the one it ended up with. The Bel Air town government protested, and put up a lot of money to make the auditorium what it is today.

In the year ahead, not only will Bel Air's seniors be graduating from Bel Air High, but also the senior classes of C. Milton Wright and Fallston will have the Bel Air town government to thank for helping to provide a sufficient venue.

The school system would do well to keep this in mind when planning the high school renovations and re-builds it has on the boards in the coming years. And it would be reasonable to expect the school system to return some or all of the money paid by Bel Air for an auditorium that was seen by the school system as a frivolity, but has turned out to be of substantial practical value.

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