(Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

March 29, 1999

Eastern seniors dodge diploma disaster

The Tattoo

Seniors at Bristol Eastern High School have put
up with noise, dust and mysterious fumes all year,
but they nearly faced the ultimate indignity: a
graduation ceremony held at their arch rival.

Officials spoke recently of moving the ceremony
to Bristol Central High School or elsewhere so
construction work could get underway on the gym

But thanks to a successful scramble by school and
city officials last week, diplomas will get handed
out at Eastern like always.

The problem arose because of the need to
renovate both of Easternís gyms, including the
one where graduation ceremonies take place. If
both were turned over to the construction workers
at the same time, officials said, there would be no
place inside the school to hand out diplomas.

A panel overseeing the $40 million construction
project at the high schools explored the possibility
of having Easternís graduation at Central,
Memorial Boulevard Middle School or  in a large
tent outside of Eastern.  

"The graduation issue is something that weighed
very heavily on the committee," said school
business manager William Smyth.

He said that members of the panel agreed that
none of Eastern's seniors would want to hold their
graduation ceremony at their rival school.

Eastern Principal V. Everett Lyons said that
having the ceremony outside in a tent would be
too risky because of the threat bad weather might
pose. Lyons said he didn't want to plan on an
outdoor ceremony.

"Then the committee said 'no, weíre not going to
do that,'" Smyth said.

School Superintendent Ann Clark said, "We're in
charge of this project, and we'll be having the
graduation as usual in the gymnasium at Eastern."

"It was the recommendation of the administrators
to turn over only one gym," Smyth said, and then
let contractors have the main gym after

By jiggering the construction schedule to allow
graduation to go on as planned at Eastern, it
means work on the large gym won't be completed
until December -- drawing out an already long
construction process even further.

Plans call for the small gym at Eastern to be
handed over to contractors on April 2. It should
be back in action by Oct. 10.

Work on the large gym will start July 7 and
continue until Dec. 6, under the current timetable.
It's getting a new floor, bleachers and more.

Officials said that they don't expect any more
problems like this to arise in the future.

"After they've done this they won't have to worry
about it anymore, because they only do a
renovation like this every 20 years or so," said
city Councilman Ken Scott.