The Regional School Unit 13 School Board voted April 26 to separate the awarding of scholarships from the graduation ceremony at Rockland District High School.

The decision has left some donors disappointed.

Senior Class President Haley Kinney told the board that the students discussed the issue and agreed unanimously that the presentations should be made on a separate night. Kinney said the most recent graduation lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours and the separation would cut the length of the ceremony.

She also said the awarding of the scholarships deserves its own night of recognition.

Board Vice Chairwoman Jamie Doubleday said almost half the faculty support the change. Doubleday also noted that Georges Valley High School and other local schools hold separate scholarship nights. Georges Valley and Camden Hills Regional High School award their scholarships on separate nights but Medomak Valley High School presents some at graduation and others at a separate scholarship night. The ones given out at graduation are done at the request of donors.

In 1998, RDHS seniors also sought to have scholarships presented on a different night. The students then voted 62-8 for the change, saying the presentations make the graduation ceremony too long.

The board rejected the request, however, after it learned that there was a contract with the Judge A. Alan Grossman scholarship that the scholarship be presented on graduation night.

RDHS Principal Tom Forti said scholarship donors were contacted and only one donor expressed opposition to the change. He said the scholarships will be announced at graduation but presentations will not be made by the donors.

Students, parents and faculty will be invited to the scholarship night but attendance by students will not be required.

Alice Knight, a retired veteran teacher from RDHS, said she was disappointed with the decision of the board. Knight has been presenting the class of 1952 scholarship annually since the early 1960s. Knight said she has attended every RDHS graduation since 1958.

“The community gives a lot of money to students,” Knight said. “This is telling the students that ‘if it’s not for you, it’s not worth going to.'”

Knight said she has talked with several other donors and they are also not happy with the decision.

Students can apply for the scholarships, she said. She said making the presentations at the graduation, where there is much greater attendance, is important because it shows siblings and underclassmen that they can receive scholarships if they work hard and apply.

Last year, $118,000 in scholarships was given out on graduation night at RDHS by community groups and individuals.

Scholarship night will be held 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 7 at RDHS auditorium. Graduation will be Monday, June 15 in the gym.