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Mukwonago High School selects Miller Park for site of 2013 graduation

Commencement set for 3 p.m. June 2, 2013

Dec. 18, 2012

Since crossing off Elmbrook Church as an option for a graduation venue earlier this year - a judge deemed it unconstitutional - the Mukwonago Area School District has spent months searching for a new venue.

Using several guidelines, the district - led by a graduation committee - whittled down a list of 10 options and on Monday proposed Miller Park as the site of the 2013 MHS graduation ceremony. Since Miller Park is not available June 9, the original date planned for MHS graduation, the ceremony was moved to Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 3 p.m.

The question over a graduation site was revisited in Mukwonago after a July ruling from the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stating that the Elmbrook School District violated the constitutional separation of church and state by holding graduation ceremonies inside Elmbrook Church. A month later, the Elmbrook School Board decided to ask the U.S.Supreme Court to rule on the lawsuit.

Without Elmbrook Church as an option, a committee composed of seven students, six staff members and three parents researched and visited options for an alternate site. Criteria included a facility that allowed the entire class to graduate together, where students could bring more than three guests, a facility that could hold about 3,200 people for the ceremony, provide a good sound and video system and meet the physical needs of guests while creating excitement for graduates.

Dale Quakkelaar, a parent member of the committee, said all options were scrutinized carefully and those eliminated were crossed off the list due to size, availability or other factors.

While Miller Park will provide ample seating and quality sound and video equipment, it comes at a cost - a cost $12,000 higher than holding the ceremony at Elmbrook. With $4,500 budgeted for graduation at Elmbrook, the $16,500 price tag on Miller Park resulted in plans to raise additional funds to cover the extra cost, explained MHS Principal Shawn McNulty.

A winter dance, DVD sales of the ceremony and charging for tickets beyond the three allotted tickets each graduate would get at no cost were several ideas Quakkelaar and senior class president Nick Blohm outlined for the MASD School Board as sources of revenue to fund the graduation venture.

"With the energy our class has, I'm sure we can raise more than this," Blohm said, pointing to the close, active senior student body at MHS.

However, Miller Park isn't a long-term solution. It's only being considered for the 2013 graduation ceremony, according to McNulty. Since the Elmbrook School District appealed the ruling, MHS is waiting to see whether the U.S. Supreme Court takes action before determining where future graduation ceremonies would be held.

"We didn't work on a long-term solution simply because we're waiting to see what will happen," said McNulty. "I think we can all agree that we would love to return to Elmbrook if the facility is available."

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