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Del Oro’s graduates deserved better

DOHSSaturday was no doubt the hottest day of the year in Northern California and for students and attendees of the graduation ceremonies for seniors at Del Oro High School in Loomis, Calif. it was more than anyone could bear.

The ceremonies began at 9 a.m. at Golden Eagle Stadium which by that time saw temperatures already rising to over 90 degrees. Fifteen minutes later the Loomis Fire Department received calls about people passing out at the ceremony. Fifteen people were treated for heat exhaustion and five people were hospitalized.

The ceremony was canceled per the request of the fire department and the Del Oro principal.

“We arrived on scene to see the first units on scene, then a second, a third, fourth, fifth, and it continued with the reports of heat exhaustion,” Loomis Fire Chief Dave Wheeler told Sacramento ABC affiliate KXTV.

Initially the school was not going to have a do-over ceremony for those who waited their entire adolescence to receive their diploma in the proper manner,but a second chance ceremony will take place tonight,and it will take place indoors. On Sunday, Bayside Church in nearby Granite Bay did the same and offered gifts to those who were unable to walk on Saturday due to the heat.

Here’s my question (or a series of them): Didn’t anyone in the administrative offices see a god damn weather report in the days leading up to this? Wasn’t there a Plan B? Why not have it later in the day or even the day after when the Delta breeze kicked in and temperatures were 20 degrees lower?

I am glad that school officials have stepped up and given the kids that didn’t get their diplomas another chance to get them so that their friends, family members,and other loved ones could witness them achieving something of a milestone, but this predicament should never have happened.

Heat exhaustion is no joke. Years ago I suffered from a really bad case of heat exhaustion on the first 100-degree day of the year in Stockton. I was 18 at the time and we were in a building that was nearly a century old which had no air conditioning. If it wasn’t for the quick thinking of others to help get me back to normal, I could’ve suffered the same fate as those who attended Saturday’s ceremony in Loomis.

Don’t get me wrong, cancelling it was the right call so as to not endanger anyone else. But why did it have to get to this situation in the first place? I certainly hope that high schools in this area (and elsewhere as this story made national news) look at what happened on Saturday and learn from this situation. If the weather looks like it is going to be really hot, execute a back-up plan so that others aren’t in danger and also so the graduates who deserve their chance to walk with their fellow seniors don’t get screwed out of that chance because of poor decision making.

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June 2013
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