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August 21, 2007 > Graduation ceremonies get failing grade

Graduation ceremonies get failing grade

On August 1 of this year, my son graduated from high school here in Fremont. He is my third child to go all the way from K-12 in the FUSD [Fremont Unified School District]. Yes, August 1. He had to complete an English summer school class in order to graduate. We were invited to Commencement Ceremonies for the students who were graduating after summer school. All district schools were represented: Adult Ed., American, Irvington, Kennedy, Mission, Robertson Continuation, Washington and Vista Alternative. There were 43 graduates in all, proudly wearing cap and gowns in their own school colors. Ceremonies were held at Valhalla on the Irvington campus. We and 42 other families arrived and were seated in the auditorium as the graduates filed in. It was very exciting.

The summer school principal, vice-principal and a board of five people were on the stage as the program began. The sound system was not operating correctly and the audience let the principal know we could not hear what he was saying. Calls for someone to fix the system were met with a shrug. The principal introduced those sitting on the stage and two young ladies who appeared to give very emotional speeches, all unheard by the audience. The vice-principal read the names of the graduates as they filed on and off the stage, again without an adequate sound system. The entire ceremony lasted 18 minutes. At the "reception" afterwards, stacks of cookie containers and gallons of fruit drinks were set on a table without any preparation.

I was crushed. My son worked so hard to earn his diploma as do all students; the ceremony provided by the district was a farce. Families were shocked and what I heard over and over again was "I can't believe this." My son proclaimed it "a joke." All students were relieved when it was over.

The FUSD owes every one of those 43 students and their families and friends an apology. Our students were treated like second-class citizens. They weren't even good enough to make sure the sound system worked! It was as if we were spit upon by our own school district.

I am thankful that my son is my last student to attend school in Fremont. The way our students and families were treated is a disgrace. I was truly embarrassed and the district should be ashamed.

Christine McQuilliams
Fremont

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