Here’s hoping the weather will be as close to perfect as possible on the evening of May 30, as members of the Paul G. Blazer High School class of 2014 gather on the banks of Ohio River for the school’s first graduation on the river that has helped fuel this community’s economy since the time when it was known as known as Poage’s Landing.
While moving the annual graduation from Putnam Stadium to the riverfront has little or nothing to do with the city’s rich history, we find the banks of the Ohio River a particularly fitting place to mark the end of the harsh winter of 2013-14 and the start of a new chapter in the lives of members of the class of 2014.
Some graduating seniors will use the river and other means of transportation to travel to other parts of the country to further their education and launch careers. For them, what they learned as students in the Ashland Independent School District will help them earn degrees in other communities and climb the ladder of success in distant places. But what they learned here will always be a part of their lives and play a role in shaping their futures.
Others will remain in this community virtually their entire lives, and that is also a positive. A solid corps of natives who grew up in this city, have deep family roots and stayed here to become business executives, union leaders, insurance sales people, merchants, sales clerks, cab drivers, bank tellers, stockbrokers and other workers combine to form the life of this community. Our native sons and daughters share a love of this community instilled in them at birth, and many of them have grown up to become our political leaders. While no community should reject the input and ideas of newcomers, neither should those who are newcomers reject Ashland natives as “being too set in their ways.”
Putnam Stadium, which with the exception of those few years when Mother Nature did not cooperate, has hosted every Blazer graduation since most of us can remember, is undergoing reconstruction and is not available for graduation. We think Ashland School Superintendent and former Mayor Steve Gilmore’s suggestion of Veterans Riverfront Park as a one-time site for Blazer’s graduation is an excellent one. It offers ample space and parking to handle a large crowd, great visibility and provides a beautiful site to what should be a memorable night for the students in the class of 2014, for their proud parents and grandparents and for the entire community. Let the pomp and circumstance begin!