We don't think Foothill is broke, but it's a sad day in this first week of spring that a high school in a relatively affluent community can't provide the traditional commencement for its own graduating class. Given the April 1 deadline for contributing $40 per student, some thought it was an April Fool's Day joke. But it's not. While the school district wrestles with fees paid to management personnel in car and mileage allowances, Dwyer is on the Foothill campus hat in hand trying to raise funds for a decent commencement exercise on June 8.
According to Dwyer's letter, here's a breakdown of the $21,646 costs he projects:
Audio, $2,790; portable bathrooms, $627; stages and canopies, $7,493; chairs, stage incidentals, skirting and decorations, $3,004; diplomas, certificates, medals, cords and seals, $6,603; awards, $699; campus preparation, $255; and additional custodial hours, $175.
Back in 1977 when Foothill's first senior class graduated, the ceremony was simpler. Graduation exercises were held on the campus quad, custodians set out folding chairs, there was one lectern and an amplifying system. Graduates wore borrowed gowns and mortar boards, which they returned to the school after graduating. Later, as enrollment at Foothill and Amador Valley High grew, the two schools shared, at different times, the costs of renting the Fairgrounds amphitheater, which came with a sound system, stage, ample seating and even a sun screen. A few years ago, again because of more graduates and guests than the Fairgrounds could accommodate, the schools moved commencement to their own football fields.
The $40 is not a lot of money for most Foothill students and their parents. Given the cost of professional portraits, announcement cards, mortar boards and gowns that must now be purchased and formal attire for the senior ball, parties and gifts, it's probably the least of the expenses graduates will face. Still, it's an outrageous one coming from the school that should proudly salute its graduates and seek help from corporations and service clubs to provide and pay for its seniors' cherished and final rite of passage. The Class of 2012 deserves it.