Graduation Update

Graduation Update

ECCS Seniors and Families:

Like many of you, I’ve watched with excitement as our Minnesota Timberwolves have continued to defy expectations in their historic and unprecedented run for the NBA Championship. What I couldn’t anticipate - nor did the event staff at the Target Center realize - was the impact it would have on our graduation venue. We were informed a few days ago that if the Timberwolves make it to the NBA Finals, Target Center will be unable to hold our graduation as planned. Event staff have conveyed their deep regret, as they too thought that given the game schedule there would not be an issue. No one involved was aware of the restrictions the NBA would put in place for Target Center for the duration of the NBA Finals.

Given that uncertainty, and at the strong recommendation of Target Center staff, we have no choice but to move our graduation ceremony location. Since learning of the scheduling conflict, district and building staff have worked tirelessly to determine what other viable options might be available. Given the extremely tight timeframe, no other large venues are able to accommodate. We did investigate whether holding the ceremonies on-site was a possibility, but the logistics with fewer than two weeks’ time made that very challenging. With those options exhausted, we have made the decision to hold our Chaska and Chanhassen graduation ceremonies at Grace Church this year. The date and time will remain the same for both ceremonies.

We know that this was not expected. We are fully committed to holding graduation in a secular space moving forward. Our administration is already planning for next year’s ceremony with that principle as the foundation of our search. We are also prioritizing a venue with fewer possibilities for potential disruption to future ceremonies.

We are grateful to the Grace Church community for their willingness to host us this year, as we know that putting on an event of this size in such a relatively short period of time is a big task, and they are partnering with us to make that happen. They have been gracious and supportive, and I want to thank them for their collaboration over the next two weeks as we work to put on a successful event.  

I also want to acknowledge that some of our students and families may not be comfortable in that space. To ensure everyone has a positive and affirming graduation experience, an alternate ceremony will be available for those families who do not want to attend graduation at Grace. If you would like to participate in the alternate ceremony instead, to be held the evening of Thursday, June 6, please complete this form no later than Friday, May 31:

We know how important graduation is to our students and families and how much planning goes on at home to make the day special. Indeed, some of our board members and district leaders have students walking across the stage this year. We understand the impact of any change to that planning. We are trying to make sure we are meeting the needs of all of our students in providing the memorable, high-quality experience we have always worked hard to deliver for our families. Your high school principals will provide any additional updates about logistical changes early next week, as well as information about refunding the $14 fee increase that was added to cover the associated costs of using Target Center.

To our students: I know all too well that much of your high school experience has been anything but normal, and that you have been called on to be resilient in the face of unexpected circumstances more times than is fair for 17- and 18-year-olds. I am sorry to have to ask for your understanding one more time, but I - like your families, teachers, and community - want to make sure you end your high school career feeling celebrated and seen. I am proud of you and can’t wait to honor you during graduation week.

To our families: please know that your district and building leaders have wrestled with this change and any potential impacts it might have and are doing our very best not to disappoint anyone. This is a big milestone for you, as well, and I look forward to celebrating our graduates together.

Thank you, all of you, for your patience, support, and partnership as we make this change. 

Dr. Erin Rathke, Ed.D.