2014 MBHS seniors won’t graduate on home turf
by DAVE SCHWAB
Mar 22, 2014 | 1866 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The good news is construction on the much-anticipated $13 million Mission Bay High School (MBHS) athletic complex is under way.

The bad news is construction on that new sports complex will impact MBHS’s graduating class of 2014, which now is forced to find a new venue for graduation ceremonies.

And, to the consternation of some, that venue most likely will be Clairemont High School.

“They finally broke ground at Mission Bay for the new sports complex, which is great news, unless you’re a graduating senior,” said Tom Norton, the parent of a graduating senior. “Not only did they [students] not get to use the new sports complex while at MBHS, but now they have no location for graduation.

“ ... High school graduation is one of the biggest milestones in their lives that they will remember forever.  This year, the Mission Bay seniors will have to hold their commencement ceremony at a rival high school in Clairemont.”

MBHS principal Fred Hilgers, however, said his graduating students are largely fine with the Clairemont High option and countered that Clairemont is the best alternative, given the circumstances.

“Clairemont is not our rival,” said Hilgers. “We don’t play them in our sports.”

When it became clear the new sports complex construction would impact this spring’s senior graduation ceremony, Hilgers said an all-out effort was made to find viable alternative graduation venues.

He said he and a group of parents have sought alternatives for an alternative graduation venue. All possibilities proved to be either too expensive or inconvenient.

“We could have gone in with a couple of other schools and rented the Civic Center downtown, but PB parents decided they didn’t want that,” Hilgers said. “Viejas (amphitheater) at San Diego State was too expensive, as was the Jenny Craig Pavilion at University of San Diego. The costs were very prohibitive — in the tens of thousands of dollars.”

Hilgers said MBHS typically spends $8,000 to $10,000 on its graduation ceremony, adding the San Diego Unified School District at present provides a $2,000 graduation subsidy to the school’s senior class.

Hilgers said Clairemont High’s field is a beautiful venue, the price was right and that the school’s field was available on Friday, June 13 — the last day of this school year.

Pam Dietz of the MBHS Alumni Association, who joined the graduation venue search, agreed Clairemont is the best available alterative.

“We tried to get Liberty Station, but it was just so much money that the kids would have had to do fundraisers to get it,” Dietz said. “They’d rather spend that money on the prom and other things for the graduating class.”

Jerrilyn Goldberg, Mission Bay High’s 2014 senior class president, said Clairemont High School “is a perfectly acceptable location for us. It’s close enough to our school that we can easily transport decorations and students … The stadium seats significantly more people than our old bleachers, so we can allow students to purchase as many tickets as they need. … This location will allow graduation to be a community celebration available to more who may want to attend.”

Goldberg said, “After the initial confusion over where we would be graduating, everyone I've spoken to has agreed that spending on our other senior activities — prom and brunch specifically — is much more valuable than an expensive graduation ceremony location.”

“Even so, we will be decorating the field to better represent our school,” Goldberg added.

Hilgers said he and others are still open to other viable alternatives.

“Hey, if somebody can come up with an affordable money package, we’ll do the logistics to move it,” he said. “But it will have to happen soon, as parents will be sending out announcements for their kids’ graduations.”
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