SDMSC Votes to Continue Graduation Diploma Tradition for 2020

Cover Photo Credit: Lena Kalotihos

The M-A Shared Decision-Making Site Council (SDMSC) voted Thursday to continue the tradition of teachers handing out diplomas for the June 2020 graduation. The body passed the motion by a vote of 14 to 2, with 4 abstentions.

SDMSC Student Representative Angela Chan said, “I’m very happy with the decision made by the SDMSC to keep the tradition of requesting teachers to hand out diplomas. I think it shows movement and progress in the student-administration relationship because student input was seriously considered and influenced the final decision.” 

The decision comes after months of dialogue between students, teachers, and administrators, including a November 15th walkout and two open forums. At the sit-in and forums, students had expressed frustration over the proposal to suspend the tradition and brought up concerns over the place of student voices in the decision-making process. 

At the meeting, teachers and administrators expressed concern over the excess time for planning that the tradition entails for staff. Principal Simone Rick-Kennel mentioned that, under the previous model, a staff member had to manually enter information from 500 student paper requests. Kennel expressed hope that the use of technology could streamline the process to be “ substantially less cumbersome.” Junior David Wagstaff is working with a developer to write an algorithm to simplify the process. Instead of requesting diplomas from teachers in person, students will likely fill out an electronic form. 

SDMSC Chair At-Large Lara Sandora emphasized that the 2020 graduation will serve as a “pilot.” The SDMSC will establish a rubric to measure the success of the model. The rubric will include metrics such as student satisfaction—which will take into account the percentage of students who request a teacher for the ceremony—and the amount of time beyond the workday that staff members spend working on logistics. Staff members will present the rubric’s findings to the SDMSC in the fall of 2020, with the results determining whether M-A will continue the tradition for graduations in 2021 and beyond.

Nate Viotti is a former editor-in-chief of the M-A Chronicle and The Mark. He was a third-year journalism student, a firm believer in the power of storytelling and was committed to amplifying underrepresented student voices. He enjoyed writing stories on a range of pertinent local, national, and international political issues. He also enjoyed designing print layouts for The Mark and playing around with the web design of the online site. Outside of school, Nate enjoyed studying languages, volunteering as a Model UN chair for middle schoolers, and watching far too many legal dramas.

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