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posted: 6/6/2012 9:38 AM

District 203 moves 2013 graduation date

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Many Naperville families will have to push next year's summer vacation back two days after Naperville Unit District 203 board members changed the 2013 high school graduation date to accommodate student-athletes.

Next year's date, originally set for Saturday, May 18, has been changed to Monday, May 20.

Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Dan Bridges, who is weeks away from taking the helm of the district on an interim basis, said the date needed to be changed to accommodate several athletic competitions.

Baseball regional finals, boys tennis sectionals, boys and girls water polo state finals, girls soccer sectional finals, softball regional finals, and girls track and field state finals all are scheduled for May 18.

"It's not unusual that we have a graduation date on the same day as a sporting event, but it is a potential conflict with seven events scheduled on that day," Bridges said. "Now they don't necessarily all occur at the graduation time, but it may not be possible for some of those teams to get back by the typical graduation time."

A May 20 graduation could still cause a conflict because boys volleyball regional prelims are still scheduled for that day. But Bridges said he believes the district may have some flexibility there in terms of scheduling the matches.

May 20 is also the eve of finals, which could present a challenge for underclassmen who have to be at the ceremony to perform in the band or watch a sibling graduate.

If necessary, Bridges said, those students would be allowed to reschedule a final exam.

In the long-term, Bridges recommended the district adopt the Illinois High School Association calendar that begins July 1 and calls for graduation to be held after the 47th week.

"I'm going to jump on my soapbox real quickly," said board President Mike Jaensch. "It shows the pitfalls of starting as early as we did this past year because the earlier you start the earlier you end and the more conflicts you have."

Bridges initially sought to have board members approve the change at their June 18 meeting, but they unanimously supported the move Monday night.

"I think this way is better. I personally like the approach and think it's been thoughtfully done and we need to go," Vice President Jackie Romberg said.

"Let's go," board member Terry Fielden said.

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