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Prospect graduation move isn't a big hit with everyone

Prospect Charter School has decided to postpone its graduation ceremony because of a time conflict with softball playoffs — a move that has upset some parents and at least one student who is refusing to walk.

Superintendent Don Alexander said the decision was made after the softball team — which is a combination of players from Prospect and Butte Falls High School — won its opening-round playoff game Wednesday, advancing to the state quarterfinals.

The playoff game will be today in La Grande, making it impossible for the five seniors on the team to make it back to Prospect in time for the previously scheduled graduation.

The graduation ceremony for the school's 17 seniors originally was planned for 7 tonight. It has been rescheduled to 7 p.m. Saturday.

The Butte Falls graduation is scheduled for Friday, June 6.

Although the seniors on the softball team will now be able to attend graduation, some visiting family members of other seniors said they will no longer be able to attend.

Maria Rodriquez traveled from Modesto, Calif., to see her niece, Samantha Ducharme, graduate, but she was planning to return home Saturday morning.

"I am very disappointed," Rodriquez said. "I can't postpone my train ticket or I would have to pay another $130 for another ticket."

Rodriquez said by moving graduation, the school is putting athletics above education.

"It's very sad that Prospect is still putting sports in front of their education. You would think that they would have graduation as a priority rather than a game," Rodriquez said.

Kathleen Barnett, mother of senior Sierra Brays, said she organized her work schedule around her daughter's graduation, which has been set since the beginning of the school year.

"Graduation is a big event in a child's life and in a parent's life," Barnett said. "And they went and changed it on a whim to accommodate five of the seniors."

Because only two of her family members are now able to attend graduation, Brays has refused to participate in the ceremony. Brays asked for her diploma Thursday.

Alexander said by pushing graduation back by a day, he gave everyone the opportunity to participate. If people choose not to take part, that's their choice, he said.

Alexander said he first tried to change the date of the game, but the Oregon School Activities Association would not allow him to do that.

"Some students were upset, but there's not a lot I can do about it," Alexander said.

Barnett said the change should never have happened.

"It's wrong," Barnett said. "It's just wrong."

Kelsey Thomas is a reporting intern for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at kthomas@mailtribune.com.