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Amphitheater to host Plateau graduations

By Brenda Sexton, The Courier-Herald

Enumclaw and White River high schools received an early graduation present last week - the Muckleshoot Tribe has donated its White River Amphitheatre for both districts to use for commencement exercises in June.

Both districts made the announcement at board meetings last week. District officials on both sides of the river said going with the amphitheater has its advantages: It's close to home, it's covered and it has plenty of seating and parking. And essentially, it's free.

While the venue seems perfect, it wasn't an easy decision for either district to make. The dates both schools selected will not be guaranteed until a number of weeks before the actual event. As a back-up plan, if either Enumclaw or White River gets bumped from its posted night, it will piggy back with the other school, holding graduation on the same day.

Enumclaw students are slated to graduate at 7:30 p.m. June 14. White River's ceremony is planned for 7:30 p.m. June 15.

EHS assistant principal Ann Baker said the probability of losing their spot was "highly unlikely," but it had to be considered with parent groups making plans for post-graduation parties.

"We talked at great length about that and decided our chances of having anything bump us were slim to none," Baker said.

Beside, she said, the positives were so plentiful.

"It would sure be nice to stay in the community and not have to travel," she said. "So we're kind of excited about that opportunity."

For years EHS used the stadium at Pete's Pool or the gymnasium for graduation. In search of a larger venue to accommodate more graduates' families, the school hosted graduation at Emerald Downs in 1997. The following year the ceremony moved to the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup. Last year the district rented the fairgrounds for $880, but Baker said there were additional costs for cleanup, a sound system, ambulance and security.

The story is the same in Buckley. For years WRHS used Sheets Field or its own gymnasium for commencement exercises and recently started renting Olson Auditorium at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma for its ceremony.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com

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