ROXBURY, NJ – The main athletic field at Roxbury High School will be renovated this year, a $1.1 million project that might force this year's graduation ceremony to take place indoors.
The school board, on Monday, approved the $679,075 reconstruction of the high school track and the $391,366 resurfacing of the school’s artificial-turf field.
The work is slated to begin in mid-May, a timeframe recommended by the contractors to avoid potential cold weather in the fall and to ensure the field is ready for fall sports, said Roxbury Schools Spokeswoman Ann Rhodes. That would mean senior graduation, a ceremony usually conducted on the field - weather permitting - would have to take place elsewhere.
Graduation is scheduled for June 24. The school administration has proposed moving it inside into the auditorium. Doing so would reduce the number of people able to attend.
Rhodes said there will be about 300 seniors graduating. Normally, each graduate can invite four guests, she said.
The auditorium can hold about 1,450 people if balcony seats are included and be within the fire code, according to Rhodes. She noted more guests could be situated in other rooms, such as the gymnasium or media center, where the ceremony would be displayed on monitors.
Some parents are not happy, suggesting the proposal could bring disappointment to graduates with extended families. Succasunna resident Ron Hayeck, attended the board meeting and – in a subsequent Facebook post – expressed his displeasure.
“Parents need to let the school know that graduation, a milestone in our kids’ lives, should take priority over the track and field which can start on June 25th," wrote Hayeck. "And if the field isn't ready, there's a brand-new turf field at Horseshoe Lake that can be used. Rent bleachers. Parents and students need to speak up.”
In an email, Hayeck noted that even professional sports teams play at facilities other than their own, when necessary, so the Gaels can do the same.
"The football team can start the season on the road the same way they did this year," he said. "They can play one or two home games at Horseshoe Lake. Remember the Yankees played two seasons at Shea in '74 and '75, so the Gaels can play one or two games at the brand-new turf field if that means starting construction the day after graduation."
Rhodes and Roxbury School Board President Carol Scheneck stressed that nothing has been decided in terms of graduation. Scheneck said the board will “be exploring” the options.
“We have no set plans for gradation at this point,” Scheneck commented. “We don’t know. We told members of public that we are going to be gathering data about possibly having the graduation in the auditorium or, possibly, at CCM (County College of Morris).”