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MCPS graduation venue change won’t impact budget

Washingto Grizzly Stadium.jpg
Posted at 8:17 AM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 10:17:24-04

MISSOULA — Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Watson says moving commencement ceremonies into Washington Grizzly Stadium won't cost more.

Seniors are just days away now from finishing their K-12 journey and are starting to pick up their caps and gowns.

Sentinel High School seniors were given a surprise, and socially-distancing sendoff from teachers Thursday.

But the real surprise came with this week's announcement that Sentinel, Big Sky, Hellgate and Willard graduates will be getting a graduation ceremony after all.

That will happen in Washington Grizzly Stadium, and because it's so large, classes won't have to be split into smaller ceremonies to abide by health department guidelines.

Watson says the district expects to spend about the same as it has for renting the Adams Center in the past.

"What I've been assured, and what I believe, is that our costs are not going to be any different using this venue. And that's part of the collaboration and cooperation from the University of Montana,” he explained. “We're trying to keep costs low as well. But folks should know that we already have in our budget that $12,000 every year for the graduation ceremonies."

"And I said, 'you know Rob you are not going to exceed your budget. We're going to figure out a way to make this work’,” University of Montana President Seth Bodnar told MTN News. “We're going to keep it as you would a normal year. But we're going to adapt to these unique circumstances and we're here to serve this community."

The District has printed up special face masks that will only be available for the graduates of each high school.



Here is some basic information regarding the ceremonies:

  • Seeley-Swan HS will graduate in their gym on May 31 at 1 p.m. Details regarding the number of guests for each student and the safety protocols will be provided in the coming weeks.
  • Willard will graduate at Washington-Grizzly stadium on Thursday, June 4 at 4 p.m. Each graduate will be allowed to bring no more than two guests. Graduates will receive more information in the coming weeks.
  • Hellgate, Sentinel and Big Sky will graduate on Friday, June 5, with Saturday saved as a backup day in case of weather delays. They will plan for our ceremonies to occur on Friday, but they encourage folks to save both days as potential graduation days. They will use the times advertised at the start of the year. Hellgate at 9 a.m., Sentinel at noon and Big Sky at 3 p.m. Each graduate will be allowed no more than two guests. Details regarding guest tickets will be provided next week.

Watson also sent out a more detailed letter of the regulations and expectations to graduating seniors and their families. You can read all of those details here.