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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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Weekend Happenings

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Rotary Pancake Day: 7:30 a.m. Feb. 28, Waukesha County Expo Center, 1000 Northview Road, Waukesha. Fundraiser for the Waukesha Rotary Club is 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Expo Center Arena. Advance tickets at Waukesha State Bank, downtown location., $5-$7. $5 advance, $7 at the door; free for children 5 and younger. www.waukesharotary.org.

Ninth Annual Oconomowoc Rotary Wine & Brew Fest: 5 p.m. Feb. 28, Olympia Resort, 1350 Royale Mile Rd, Oconomowoc. Wine, food and beer. Features foods from the best of our local restaurants. Purchase tickets at $50 from an O-Town Rotarian, through Facebook, or in person at most area First Bank Financial Centre locations, Books & Company & Lorleberg True Value Hardware. See more at www.oconomowocrotary.org. $50.

Chili Tasting: 11 a.m. Feb. 28, The Garden Mart, W297 S9115 Highway 83, Mukwonago. Chili tasting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Local vendors will be selling unique merchandise. Judging is open to the public and all proceeds from voting will be donated to the Mukwonago Food Pantry. Event is free. Call (262) 363-5252 for information.

Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash Literacy Event: 10 a.m. Feb. 28, Hartland North Elementary, 232 Church Street, Hartland. Families with children in 4-year old kindergarten through second grade are invited to a special event. The Cat in the Hat and the Lorax will celebrate with a big birthday cake for all of our guests along with lots of literacy activities based around Dr. Seuss books.

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