Temple reunion time moved up to 5 p.m.

Published 11:42 am Thursday, May 17, 2012

Over the objections of some Vicksburg High School parents, the superintendent of the Vicksburg Warren School District reiterated at a meeting Wednesday night that ceremonies planned by the Rosa A. Temple High School Class of 1962 will take place on the VHS field prior to graduation of this year’s class May 24.

The time of the Temple ceremony was moved up again, however, to 5 p.m., and the field will be cleared no later than 6 p.m. for the VHS graduates, said Dr. Elizabeth Swinford.

Vicksburg’s graduation begins at 7 p.m., and parents concerned about parking, seating, setting precedents for future years and distractions on what should be a day for the graduates to shine questioned why the Temple ceremony is not being moved.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“The commitment has been made and we cannot go back on that commitment,” Swinford said. “I’ve heard you, I’ve received thousands of emails, (but)…. the activity will take place at 5 o’clock. By 6 o’clock we will have that field clear for 7 o’clock commencement.”

Swinford said “in retrospect” officials, including VHS Principal Derrick Reed, have questioned their decision to allow the Temple class of 1962 to hold an event on the field prior to graduation.

“In retrospect, you learn a lot,” she said. “The intention was pure. Maybe it was not great.”

In the future, permission to hold similar events on the same day as graduation will not be given, she said.

Swinford called the meeting, held in the VHS auditorium, primarily to answer specific questions raised earlier this year by VHS parents concerned with fights between students that resulted in arrests and one lockdown of the school. Most of the nearly 2½-hour meeting was devoted to those questions. About 50 people attended.

Items discussed included increased school security, violence-prevention programs and curriculum, student discipline and enforcement of the dress code.

Reed said faculty and staff have been asked to assume a more visible presence in the cafeteria and school hallways during class changes. Coaches also are being used as hall monitors, he said, and security officers have been retained to safeguard both inside areas of the school and parking areas.

“It’s ever-changing, but we have to make sure we ensure the safety of your students,” said Reed.

Other VSWD staff members who spoke included Debra Hullum, assistant superintendent, who reviewed student handbook revisions; Sherrie Williams, project manager for the Project SYNC Safe Schools-Healthy Students grant, who reviewed the district’s anti-violence curriculum and peer mediation programs; and district security chief Dewayne Sims, who reviewed regulations relating to students being arrested and taken to the Warren County Juvenile Detention Center.

Swinford said enforcement of the school dress code, a particular concern for many parents, had been tightened and would be even more strictly observed in the next school year, as well as the district’s prohibition against students having cell phones on campus.

Students violating either policy next year should be prepared to face the consequences, she said.

VWSD trustees Bryan Pratt and Jim Stirgus Jr., members of the Vicksburg Police Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Office and other school officials also attended.