Herb Gwaltney Susan Myers

Board President Herb Gwaltney, left, and Superintendent Susan Myers tend to business Monday during the USD 409 Board of Education meeting for March.

The Atchison Middle School eighth-graders might usher in an inaugural venue for their tradition, starting this year, when they step up to their next level of education.

AMS Eighth Grade Commencement will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 23, in the Atchison High School Gymnasium. USD 409 Board of Education members agreed by consensus to make the change effective this year in an exploratory effort to better accommodate the audience.

Superintendent Susan Myers said she has noticed there have been standing room only crowds in attendance throughout the past few years.

AMS Principal Chad Bilderback said the middle school has a maximum capacity for 600 people. Board members agreed that not only will the AHS offer more seating for all who attend the event, but it will bring an improvement to the parking situation.

Board member Bill Shipley said it’s actually a safety issue.

AHS Principal Bryon Hanson told board members that there is a capacity to seat 1,200 persons inside the AHS gym, and additional space in the commons area to accommodate 350 persons. The stage will already be set up for the special end of the school year events.

Board members also discussed the possibility of moving the AHS graduation indoors for future years to avoid last minute changes due to inclement weather conditions like rain or extreme heat. There were also some comments about changing the time to earlier in the morning or later in the evening.

Board President Herb Gwaltney taught for more than a decade at AHS and also served as a member of the administrative team there throughout his tenure.

Gwaltney reminded all that the graduation times have been set between the three high schools throughout Atchison County to alleviate conflicts for the public who might have loved ones, friends and relatives involved in graduation ceremonies at the different schools.

Mary Meyers can be reached

at mary.meyers@atchisonglobenow.com.

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