The Webster Groves High School Class of 2019 is likely the last to stage its graduation ceremony at Moss Field on the Hixson campus.
Practicality appears to have won over nostalgia, as the Webster Groves Board of Education on June 10 issued a consensus, though not an official vote, to have the 2020 high school commencement at Saint Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena.
Superintendent John Simpson said that despite the tradition of caps and gowns on the outdoor field – which was sometimes moved to adjacent Roberts Gymnasium when weather was uncooperative – a number of problems with the venue have come to light.
“While there are many families whose experience at one or both of these venues have been pleasurable, there are a number of families whose experience was not,” Simpson said.
Patrick Lee, a Webster Groves High School senior and student adviser to the board, noted that when he attended the May 17 graduation ceremony, he noticed that some attendees had to stand on the hills astride the field and that some were older people who had difficulty. Moss Field’s grandstands are not Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible.
Other complaints find the restroom facilities at Moss Field inadequate and that parking is not ideal.
The district made available online a survey to obtain input on the commencement venue. A total of 731 people participated in the survey: 448 parents/guardians, 200 students and 83 staff members. A slight plurality of parents and students, 51 percent, indicated they favored Moss Field. Fifty-six percent of staff said they wanted to move the ceremony to Chaifetz.
The overarching factor for those who favored Moss Field was that it affords “a clear view of graduates receiving their diplomas;” those who favored Chaifetz tended to cite “guaranteed conditions and location.”
Simpson indicated that the administration and the Parent Club will proceed with lining up the May 12, 2020 high school commencement at Chaifetz. It is expected to cost the district $13,500 to rent the arena with an additional $1 per person admission. The superintendent said the board is not required to vote on the graduation venue.