ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Rockwood High School students traditionally graduate after Memorial Day. In August, the district announced a change, citing feedback as one reason for moving the end of the school year to before the holiday. The change also resulted in an earlier than usual graduation day.

Eureka High School students will graduate on May 13. Students in the district’s other three high schools, Lafayette, Marquette, and Rockwood Summit, will graduate on May 11.

Sara Barnard is the parent of a Lafayette senior. She said the May 11 date conflicts with a district track meet.

“My daughter lost her graduation; just in like one instant, she’s lost it,” Barnard said. She has concerns for other students facing the same predicament.

Some parents say the date is also in conflict with the graduation dates for some area universities. Kerry Haas is the parent of a Marquette High School senior and a University of Illinois senior. She’s now faced with choosing which graduation to attend.

“Just a terrible situation overall when it comes to choosing between those things,” Haas said.

She said Marquette parents were initially sent information indicating graduation day would be May 30, until a few weeks later the change was announced.

Haas is also concerned about the timing of AP exams, tests that can help students save college tuition by testing out of certain college courses. She said some students will be taking their AP exam on Monday after graduation.

A district spokesperson said it is not uncommon for students to take AP exams after graduation. They said the exam dates are set by the college board, not the school district. The spokesperson added that unfortunately, there is not a date that is free of conflict for all Rockwood families.

Some parents believe the district failed to take into account the best interests of students.

Here is the letter district officials sent in August:

Dear Rockwood Students and Parents/Guardians,

We hope this letter finds you and your family well and enjoying the final weeks of summer break. We are excited to share some important news regarding the senior calendar and graduation ceremonies this year.

Tonight, the Board of Education voted to amend the 2023-2024 academic calendar to reflect a change to seniors’ last day. Previously, the last day for seniors was Friday, May 17, 2024. Following the adoption of the revised calendar, the last day for seniors is now Friday, May 10, 2024. This change was made based on valuable feedback from students, staff and parents who also asked that graduation be earlier in May and closer to the last day for seniors. We are pleased to announce that graduation ceremonies have also been moved up in response to your feedback and will take place immediately following the last day for seniors. This decision aims to enhance the overall graduation experience for our students, their families and our staff members.

In order to change the graduation dates, it did require us to move to a different venue.

All four high school graduation ceremonies will take place at The Family Arena located at 2002 Arena Parkway, St. Charles, MO 63303 on the following dates and times:

Saturday, May 11, 2024
11 a.m. – Lafayette High School
3 p.m. – Rockwood Summit High School
7 p.m. – Marquette High School

Monday, May 13, 2024
7 p.m. – Eureka High School

One significant advantage of this change is that it allows our graduating seniors to commemorate their achievements while the memories are still fresh in their minds. We recognize the importance of this milestone in the lives of our students and want to ensure that they have the best possible experience.

We understand that some families may have made plans based on the previously scheduled graduation dates. We want to assure you that we took all factors into consideration before making this decision. While we recognize the inconvenience this change may pose for some, we firmly believe that the benefits for our students and the school community as a whole far outweigh any challenges, and we hope by alerting you now to the change that adjustments can be made in your plans.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the changes, please do not hesitate to reach out to your school’s administration. We greatly appreciate your understanding and collaboration as we continue to work toward creating the best possible experience for our graduating seniors.

Thank you for being an essential part of the Rockwood community. We look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our seniors in May at the Family Arena!

Dr. Gary Jansen
Executive Director of Secondary Schools