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North Vermilion senior Caleb Reese and his classmates made signs that they held as they marched to the school board’s central office.

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The protesters stayed six feet apart as they protested to interim superintendent Brad Prudhomme who was in his office at the time.

Graduation Protest Held in Vermilion Parish

Parents, seniors want to have one large graduation, not individual graduations

A group of Vermilion Parish graduating seniors and parents held a protest on Tuesday to try to change the way seniors will graduate this year.
Interim Superintendent Brad Prudhomme, said there will be no large gatherings for high school graduations. Prudhomme announced last week that each graduate would be handed a diploma in front of only five family members and a small group of school staff members. A photo will be taken of each graduate, and then they will walk away, and another student and family members will arrive.
Each graduate will be given 10 to 15 minutes. The process for Abbeville, Erath, Kaplan North Vermilion High schools, could take two, 12-hour days because each school has at 120 graduates. It will take one hour to graduate six seniors.
Graduations will occur between May 14 through May 17 in Vermilion Parish.
Prudhomme decided on this method because of the COVID-19 pandemic and not being allowed to gather in large groups.
Last week when it was announced how graduation would take place, some seniors were not happy.
Two Abbeville High seniors who attended the protest want to graduate with their classmates.
Zah’ Kereya Bell and Coriana Willis were hoping their voices could help change Prudhomme’s decision on having individual graduations instead of one big graduation.
Willis said she wants graduation like the one in Calcasieu Parish, which is expected to be large with the entire class at a football stadium.
“They (Calcasieu) will have it at a stadium, along with a certain number of people who can attend,” said Willis. “[Vermilion Parish] School officials did not take into consideration all of the hard work we (seniors) put into school.”
Bell added, “We put in 12 years, and we are not getting a proper graduation. We missed out on our prom and our banquet.”
The two AHS seniors said they found out about their graduation on the Internet, and if nothing changes, both girls said they will not attend the individual ceremonies. They will go pick up their diploma the next day.
The two seniors and a handful of Abbeville High, North Vermilion, and Kaplan seniors met in Magdalen Square Tuesday at 11 a.m.
North Vermilion senior Caleb Reese orchestrated the protest by inviting people and students to join him.
“We are protesting against the individual graduations,” said Reese before the march. “We think they made a decision too soon. We want them to push it back and re-look at another date.”
Reese said school officials should wait to hear what Gov. John Bel Edwards says on May 15, in regard to lifting the stay-at-home order and opening all businesses in Louisiana.
“We think they made a decision too soon,” said Reese.
From Magdalen Square, the group of around 30 people marched to Central Office, where superintendent Brad Prudhomme was in his office. The group yelled, “Wait to let them graduate.” In other words, hold graduation In June or July.
After about 15 minutes of chanting, Prudhomme went to meet the group outside and answered questions about graduation. Some parents voiced their concerns about having only five family members, while others said they would have transportation issues.
Prudhomme thanked them and said he was not making any promises about changing graduation but said he and his staff would talk about graduation ceremonies once again.

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