Outdoor Track Athletes Face A Dilemma: Walk at Graduation or Run at States?

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Outdoor Track Athletes Face A Dilemma: Walk at Graduation or Run at States?

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Graduation marks a momentous occasion for many teenagers: it celebrates their tenacity over the last four years and the potential in their futures. However, come May 31, 2019, several outdoor track athletes may have to choose between attending their State Championship or graduation.

“It’s really hard to choose because we’ve been with our class since middle school. Both graduation and states matter so much to me,” said Ailene Edwards, Senior.

The Outdoor Track State Championships spans May 31 to June 1 at the Liberty University track in Lynchburg. The girls and boys teams both have the chance to place in the top three, which makes the decision especially difficult for many athletes.

“States affects a lot of Seniors, and there are also siblings of graduating Seniors who have to choose. There’s not necessarily another chance to run at states and win if a bunch of Seniors miss it. I feel like they’d change the graduation date if it were football,” said Anna Kender, Senior.

Erika Modlin, Senior, agreed, “If Cole Beck or other high-profile people were running, I think they’d move graduation.”

In October 2018, Mr. Kitts organized a meeting for all Senior track athletes potentially affected by the conflict to discuss solutions. He presented options of a separate graduation on May 30 or June 2 with student speakers and invitations to all students and their families.

“I don’t want any high school kid to have to choose between missing their graduation or state meet. I’ll work with any impacted athletes to give them a separate graduation if they would like and set it up according to their preferences,” said Kitts.

Multiple athletes did not want to graduate apart from their classmates and requested in November 2018 to move the Blacksburg High School graduation to Sunday, June 2, after Christiansburg High School’s. However, school administrators deemed it too late to shift the date because students had already sent out graduation announcements.

“If almost 10% of the class can’t graduate on the same day, they should do something because the rest of the class wouldn’t mind having it on a Sunday if it meant everyone could graduate. I feel like this is a punishment because we’ve worked hard enough to be able to walk the stage and run,” said Agustina Cordova, Senior and Class Co-Vice President.

While most runners only compete on one day and have time to come back for graduation, many wish to stay for the whole duration and cheer on their teammates. When interviewed about whether they would choose states or graduation, 13 sided with graduation and 10 with states.

“It’s a bigger deal for me to graduate with my friends who don’t do track or aren’t going to states,” said David Quesenberry, Senior.

For students competing on both days, the total six hours of commuting makes it impossible for them to come back for graduation and return for their events the next morning.

“As Class President, it’s my job to run graduation, so I’ve already decided to attend graduation. I understand a lot of track kids are really torn between the two, but I think the alternate graduation day for the track kids is a good solution. I’d be happy to go to and speak at the track graduation to make it like the actual one,” said Julie Walsh, Senior and Class President.


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