Graduation update from Principal Wilder

A message from Principal Stephen Wilder:

MHS Graduation Update

Graduation for the Class of 2022 will take place on campus this year. I know there are a lot of questions and opinions about the location of graduation. Just as the location of the wedding doesn’t determine the quality of a marriage, the location of the graduation doesn’t determine the quality of a life. What makes a memorable moment or experience is the people who are there and the attitudes they bring with them. People who have a negative attitude can be miserable in the most beautiful of locations. People with a positive attitude can be joyful in any location. I can assure you, that we will provide the best we have to give. We cannot give what we do not have, but will give all that we have to make this a celebration of our graduates.

We are prioritizing an outdoor graduation ceremony, if the weather forecast allows, at 10:00 am. The 10 a.m. start time will help take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures. The location also maximizes the morning shade to help keep the space cooler. We took into consideration the background for the stage/dais for pictures and the location will offer a more private and wooded landscape. Being outdoors, we have the space for up to 6 guests per graduate. We are going to have seating available, but it is likely that guests may need to bring their own chairs. We will have indoor seating in the RJK Middle School cafeteria with live streaming through multiple TV’s for guests who would prefer to be on site but indoors.

If we have inclement weather, the graduation ceremony will be moved indoors, time to be determined. We were notified today, May 12, that the NYS Department of Health and the Sullivan County Department of Public Health recommends physical distancing in indoor school events. As a result, we are exploring multiple options for the Graduation Committee, Superintendent, and Board of Education to consider if moving indoors is necessary.

Prior to the pandemic, our graduation took place in the SUNY Sullivan Field House. The reason for the location change is because SUNY Sullivan is conducting renovations on the Field House and this location is not available this year. We have had a wonderful relationship with SUNY Sullivan and will explore returning to this location in the future.

We have fielded inquiries regarding whether we can rent or purchase tents large enough to hold graduation outdoors, regardless of inclement weather. Purchasing large tents can range from $30,000-$50,000 each, and multiple tents would be necessary to accommodate a graduation of about 1,500 people. This is an untenable cost. Renting tents are not an option as tents, in the size and quantity we would need, are not available. Recreating the space found at the SUNY Sullivan Field House outdoors is not feasible.

During the planning process, we contacted or investigated numerous locations and venues across Sullivan County. However, we were unable to utilize any of these options for a variety of reasons including the date being unavailable or insufficient capacity. Here is a list of locations and venues we contacted in our search:

Bethel Woods
SUNY Sullivan
Resorts World
Kadampa Meditation Center
Villa Roma
Villa Roma Clubhouse
Brookwood Camps
Hurleyville Performing Arts Centre
Mountain View Manor in Glen Spey
Eldred Preserve
Lake Champion
The Lake Club at Chapin Estates
Barn on Hubbard
Sullivan County Visitors Association
Sullivan County Airport
Wurtsboro Airport
Michael Ritchie Barn
Iroquois Springs Camp in Rock Hill

I will be presenting at the May 17 Board of Education meeting to explain our current status for graduation planning and preparation. This presentation will echo the information provided in this explanation. Again, it is our focus to provide the best we have to give to celebrate our graduates. We look forward to sharing this celebration with you!


Stephen Wilder
Principal, Monticello High School