Why Graduation Was Moved to the Badlands


Lucy Law

The bleachers that normally hold SJHHS’ students at football games, will now be used to hold parents watching their children receive their diplomas.

Lucy Law, Co-Editor in Chief

SJHHS has been holding graduation at the UCI Bren Center for the past couple years however, this year it was announced that graduation will now be held at The SJHHS Badlands Stadium.

Starting last year, the Bren Center chose to accommodate University High School and Northwood High School graduations on the same day of SJHHS’. Since the changes didn’t dramatically effect SJHHS, administration chose to continue at the venue.

But these accommodations moved graduation to 7:00 pm, it was a bit of a time crunch for students who wanted to go to Grad Night and celebratory dinners.

The prevent the same timing issues that were experienced last year, SJHHS worked with the Bren Center on trying to get an earlier start time for the Class of 2019’s graduation, but ultimately was given 7pm as the only option.

According to a new UC policy, if a large event, such as a graduation, is taking place while school is still in session, they have to look at the impact the event will have for the students. This makes a later graduation mandatory so UCI can have a clear campus, and allow for events to run smoothly.

Because the Bren Center is such a unique venue, there was no other place that SJHHS could find that could truly accommodate the amount of people attending, in an environment that’s similar to the Bren.

“There’s definitely pros and cons. The Bren Center is super easy… We pay money and we show up. Now [Valderrama] has to rent everything and set it all up. It’s a lot more work for us…” says SJHHS principal, Jennifer Smalley.

[They’re] going to graduate on campus. I think that will be so much more meaningful… and we’re going to make it amazing”

— Brooke Valderrama

The CUSD district alots $25,000 a year per high school graduation. The Bren Center was about $6,000 over budget, and that money would be taken out of gift funds. SJHHS will now be able to fall in the $25,000 budget, and will now have money to  use on things such as extra bleachers, a better sound system, outside security etc…

“[Seniors] have been here for four years. [They’re] going to graduate on campus. I think that will be so much more meaningful… and we’re going to make it amazing,” says Activities Director, Brooke Valderrama.

SJHHS received lots of backlash from students raging about the negative aspects of the Bandland graduation, wanting to cancel Grad Night and move graduation back to the Bren. Ultimately, over 300 students have signed a contact and have paid to attend Grad Night so cancellation is not an option.

“The kids going to Grad Night would not make it. It just wouldn’t happen,” Valderrama says.

Many students were outraged over that fact that none of the students got a say in the decision.

“Student voice is so important, but then do you let the kids vote every year? Or you have kids vote and it’s one of the years you don’t get the Bren Center? Cause that’s really hard to plan, every year a new location,”  said Smalley.

Another large concern amongst students was the weather. More specifically, the potential heat that could over power this special ceremony. June weather in Southern California can be unpredictable, but there will be a full snack bar, refreshments, and first aid in case there are any emergencies.

As for parking, another large concern, each student gets a parking spot, and the remaining spots will be raffled off. Anyone who doesn’t get a spot has the option to park  off site, and take a shuttle that is being offered.

There will be 3 shuttles running back and forth from Ladera Ranch Middle School, and 3 from the Esencia K-8 School.

In 2014, the last time SJHHS held graduation at the Badlands, just 3 shuttles from Ladera Ranch accommodated everyone attending. Administration thought that adding 3 more shuttles  and another site would make everything easier for the families.

There will be 4,500 seats, with the help of extra bleachers, and that is predicted to be a comfortable amount of seating for the number of attendees. Each student starts out with 5 free tickets to graduation, additional tickets will be $10 and sold in 3 different rounds through April 15th to May 3rd.

“I [am] so confident, having done the graduation in 2014, and it went extremely well. It was awesome. That’s so comforting for me to know, we can pull this off and it’s gonna be good for [the students],” said Valderrama.

Although many students are still not thrilled about the news, some are beginning to see the positive aspects to the shocking news.