Harlem High School seniors won’t be receiving their diplomas in the same arena as other Columbia Country graduates in May.
Columbia County’s school board agreed Tuesday to allow the school to break away from the ceremonies for the county’s other four high schools at Augusta’s James Brown Arena.
Instead, Harlem’s ceremony will be held a day earlier, at 7 p.m. May 24, on the school’s football field.
Harlem Principal Dietmar Perez said officers of the school’s 170-member senior class approached him earlier this year about holding commencement at the stadium.
Polled twice, 91 percent of seniors consented to the change of venue, he said.
The school looked at moving its graduation ceremony four years ago, but only 31 percent of the seniors then favored the idea, Perez said.
In the case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved inside, which could limit the number of guests in attendance.
Because the ceremonies for the other schools last nearly an entire day, Superintendent Charles Nagle recommended that board members begin considering having the graduations over two days.
Also, board members agreed to table a middle school rezoning until their Nov. 27 meeting.
The new school zones will affect 350 pupils attending Columbia, Evans, Grovetown and Greenbrier Middle schools.
The rezoning, in advance of the opening of a larger Columbia Middle School, is needed to relieve overcrowding at Grovetown Middle, where the population has grown by 100 pupils annually for the past three school years, Nagle said.
If the rezoning is ap-proved, Grovetown Middle would lose more than 190 pupils but still be above capacity by 21 pupils.
Nearly 170 pupils would be added to Evans Middle however, bringing the school’s enrollment above capacity by about 130 pupils. To offset the enrollment increase, 12 additional classrooms would be built.
School board members Mike Sleeper and Kristi Baker were hesitant about the large influx of pupils coming to Evans Middle.
Wayne Bridges requested the tabling so board members could have more time to consider the plan.
In other business, board members were given the option of receiving new Apple iPads.
Three of the five board members are eligible in January to receive the use of a new laptop issued by the school system. Nagle said they could instead receive a new iPad, ranging in price from $529 to $729.
Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco and board members Sleeper and Roxanne Whitaker said they didn’t want either device.
“I say we save the money and use it for something else,” Whitaker said.
The board agreed to let each member determine whether they wanted the technology.