The cancellation of eighth-grade promotion ceremonies at all junior high schools in the Santa Clarita valley has many students upset, but one Sierra Vista Junior High School student isn’t taking the news lying down.
Hunter Kozak, 14, was set to graduate from Sierra Vista this June, and despite the cancellation, he plans to walk across a stage and receive a diploma along with his fellow students at the end of the school year.
Kozak decided to put on a private eighth-grade promotion ceremony where all Sierra Vista students are invited.
“I saw a bunch of kids protesting and getting mad, and I just wanted to fix it,” said Kozak. “I was also looking to do my Eagle Scout project so I just combined the two.”
With the help of his father, he drew up 400 flyers to pass out to his fellow students announcing his plans.
Because of school restrictions he is only allowed to pass out the flyers before and after school and off campus.
“When the kids found out what he wanted to do the girls squealed, and he got lots of high-fives,” said Melisa Kozak, Hunter’s mother.
Hunter met with a vice principal to garner support for his mission and was told the school could not support him, but wished him good luck.
Since he began his plans to go forward with the graduation ceremony, he has received offers from people wishing to donate a church to hold the event, balloons, a sound system, and two offers for printing service.
Kozak hopes to be able to print diplomas for the students to hand out at the ceremony, but the district has not given him access to student names to put on the diplomas.
“We need to respect the privacy of the students, and that is why we cannot give him the names,” said Pat Willet, spokeswoman for the Hart District. “I suggest he get a sign-up sheet and pass that out to see who wants to be involved.”
Kozak has formed a committee of students to help with the planning of the graduation ceremony, as well as a Facebook page titled “2010 Sierra Vista Graduation Is ON!”, and an email account.
“It’s on his own time and he is free to have a private party if he wants,” said Willett. “This is not an official district ceremony.”
Despite its unofficial status teachers and staff are allowed to participate.
“They can attend, but not in official capacity,” said Willett.
The school also has plans for a party of their own. Each year they hold a BBQ for all the students, but this year Sierra Vista Principal Mark Crawford says they are involving a lot of the parents that were upset at the promotion cancelation to make it a bigger deal.
Traditional trips like the end of the year Disneyland trip will also still continue, and the school is planning an awards night to recognize outstanding students.
Kozak hopes to have a location and a time for his graduation ceremony picked by next week.