(Seguin) -- Handing out diplomas, shaking hands and taking pictures...the details behind what happens on the Seguin High School graduation stage seem to be causing a bit of a debate as the high school graduation committee seeks a better way of being able to present diplomas to graduating seniors.
Tasked with bringing a few options to the board of trustees to improve the process was Seguin High School Principal Hector Esquivel. During a recent board workshop, Esquivel said the committee is only wishing to preserve the integrity of handing out the diplomas on stage and is not looking to drastically change the way things have been handled in the past.
"Our graduation goes really fast and I think one of the things that was brought up is that people are getting in each other's way while let's say you're going to present and you're going to present and if they were back to back, it kind of slowed down the graduation, the rhythm of it (and/or)there was a really loud applause. They didn't really get the attention the student deserves. This is something that is coming from community members. It's not necessarily coming from any of our faculty. Now because that issue came up, I summoned the committee and I asked them, what do y'all think? And, that's one of the things they thought of. I said well we could restrict it to where it's more like it's not happening with every other kid or every kid. Then I think it would flow a whole lot better. I'm not trying to kill any traditions or anything. When I came to Seguin, my first inclination was to preserve as much tradition that we have here. I know that in the past, from what the committee says, this is going to be my third graduation -- that it's escalating more where they feel that it's interfering with the flow of the graduation. I'm not sure if anybody sees the same thing. I'm usually on the other end. So that's something that I really don't notice. I"m actually the first one that shakes their hand and then they go through," said Esquivel.
A handful of audience members in attendance at the meeting told the KWED/Seguin Daily News that anyone can just look at past graduation ceremonies on video and see evidence of board members taking selfies with graduates while on stage, or pushing their way to the front of the stage in time to shake a specific graduate’s hand.
Options presented by the committee include allowing the board president and superintendent to present the diploma and shake the students' hands, having board members rotate the responsibility of handing out the diplomas, or having board members request in advance the opportunity to present a specific senior their diploma while they cross the stage.
Trustee John Holt, admits to having had the honor of presenting a few of those diplomas in the past, and doesn't think there is real big issue.
"My biggest concern here is that it sounds we're willing to change the process that's taken place for one, two, maybe three or four complaints. When in actuality, last year, I had several people come up and ask me if I would hand their child their diploma because they've been to several graduations, they've seen it happen. There's certain students in this district who I've been a part of their lives or I've watched them grow up or I've been close to their families, close family friends, what have you -- that are still yet to come. In fact, I was looking at my list, I already have 10 this year that have already talked to me about it that they are graduating. I don't know if it's really taking away from the process in essence. I don't see how that's taking away. I can see where somebody who doesn't have a great relationship with another school board member might -- but for the lack of a better word that's one of the 'perks' of being on the board, is you get to have that honor because it is truly an honor to be able to hand that person their diploma," said Holt.
Trustee Carl Jenkins stated that he felt that the committee should be supported in their findings and suggestions, while others just wanted to ensure that there was no disruption with the flow of graduation and that some effort be made in ensuring that the spotlight remain on each student.
Superintendent Matthew Gutierrez says he is hopeful that a compromise will be agreed upon by both the graduation committee and members of the school board.
"Like you said, it's the kid's night. They're the stars of the show and I think it's important for the community to have the perspective of this team here. There is still time to discuss and come to a compromise. I understand that they want to make sure that every student is honored appropriately. I understand the role of a board member handing a diploma as well. I've seen other things. If it's having a place on the stage where the student can go to get a photo taken with their board member -- I don't know, I've just talked about different things that I've seen. I have not seen our graduations," said Dr. Gutierrez.
The graduation process was only a discussion item during the recent board workshop. No action was taken on the process. Esquivel is expected to go back to the committee, share some of the board members concerns and again, hopefully suggest a compromise for this year's graduation ceremony.