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RJUHSD school board to vote on 2020 graduation venue change

September 10, 2019

Graduation for schools in RJUHSD – typically held on each school’s respective campus – could move to a new venue this year: the Placer Valley Event Center. The event center is currently under construction on the former Placer County Fairgrounds (now @theGrounds) and will be finished this February. If the district makes the change, students from Roseville, Woodcreek, Oakmont, Antelope and Granite Bay High School will all walk across its the stage when receiving their diplomas this spring. 

The new venue first came to the table when Placer Valley Tourism, the organization responsible for building it, reached out to RJUHSD to offer it first dibs on hosting its graduations there. After, RJUHSD set to work gathering community input and drafting a list of pros and cons to present to the school board, which will vote at this Tuesday’s board meeting. 

The list of pros includes more parking, a video feed of the stage playing around the venue – and air conditioning, something superintendent Denise Herrmann said is a priority not only for comfort but safety, as RJUHSD has a history of people suffering from heat stroke in past ceremonies.  

Herrmann said regardless of the change, certain “traditions” schools have – like holding performances from choirs or bands – could be carried on in the indoor facility. And, across the board it has more seats than any of the five schools could offer on campus. 

For instance, at Roseville High School in particular, the new venue would have around 1000 more seats, meaning each student would get around two more tickets for guests, according to RHS principal Nicholas Richter. 



“On paper, it looks like a really good idea,” Richter said. “The other side of it is we did have to talk to our students and community because it’s not the football field. It’s not the school you attended. And we understand that there’s a connection there.”

The move would mean the end of Roseville High School’s tradition of holding graduation in Hansen football field, where students take one last walk around the track and receive their diplomas atop the tiger paw. But, it would offer not only greater convenience and comfort for guests and graduates alike, but allow students to invite more of their friends and family. And for senior Morgan Jenkins, she said this is the reason she wants the location to change. 

“As a first generation that’s graduating from Roseville High, I know a lot of my family wants to come out,” Jenkins said. “With parking issues there’s not a lot of parking here even for kids that come to school and want to park their car. It’s not a lot of room.”    

And, according to assistant superintendent of business services Joe Landon, sharing on venue for all graduations would save the district around $35,000 a year. 

“That would free up money at each of the school sites that they could use for other things for the school,” Landon said. “There’s more cost efficiencies.” 

When the RJUHSD school board votes on the move, it will take into account not only this list of pros and cons, but responses on a survey emailed to students, parents and staff asking for their opinion on the change. 

For the most part, parents and staff responded favorably to the survey, but students were more divided – just over half of the students that responded said they wanted to stay on their school’s campus. Senior Maddie Nickerson said moving the graduation take away from the sentimental ceremony.

“All the seniors have really grown up here,” Nickerson said. “I feel like graduating in a random room isn’t really going to provide us with anything rather than walking across the stage. It’s gonna be like ‘Oh we did it. We graduated from Roseville’ not ‘We graduated from a random building.’”

Another senior, Camryn Casey, said she feels moving the ceremony would mark the end of an important tradition.

“Being at Roseville and being on campus is such an important part, especially because you get to walk across our campus where we’ve been for the last four years,” Casey said. “Everyone’s been looking forward to graduating at our school, not somewhere else. It’s an important part of a tradition. We keep moving our traditions. We keep changing things and sooner or later it’s not going to be Roseville anymore.”

According to RJUHSD superintendent Denise Herrmann, if the board votes in favor of the location change, the current plan would be that the five schools would stagger graduations over the course of two days – three one day and two the other. 

 Herrmann said that one of the high schools she worked at as a principal before coming to RJUHSD had to hold graduation at an off campus, indoor venue for a year, and initially people were “reluctant.” After that year, however, people did not want to move it back.

“My inbox was flooded with people saying ‘We didn’t think we were going to like it, but we really, really liked it and we want to have it here again next year,’” Herrmann said. “And so I know that this is something that, until you’ve experienced it and know some of the benefits, it can be hard to imagine things being different and still being good.” 

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