UPDATE: Hilliard City Schools still planning May graduations at Schottenstein Center

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group
The Hilliard City Schools Central Office is at 2140 Atlas St. in Columbus.

Hilliard City Schools still is planning to have the graduations of all three high schools May 26-28 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center, 555 Borror Drive, on the campus of Ohio State University. 

Superintendent John Marschhausen said as of March 15, the district has the green light from the venue to proceed with in-person commencements but with mitigation plans in place to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

The Schottenstein Center has been closed to outside organizations because of the pandemic. 

Leslie Lane, vice president of Columbus Arena and Sports Entertainment, said, “I can confirm that we are currently in talks with several schools that held dates at the Schottenstein Center and are working with university leadership and local health officials seeking approvals on a case-by-case basis.”

Stacie Raterman, director of communications for Hilliard schools, said the district is preparing for the ceremonies to be held in the Schottenstein Center. 

"We have amended contracts signed and are planning for all three graduations to be at the Schott," she wrote in an email. "We are in continued communications with officials at the Schott and working through the final details."

When asked if the district has a backup plan, Raterman wrote the district has "no specific plan at this time, but this time last year we didn’t have any idea what would happen and we had three pretty impactful drive through events. Our team can adjust and adapt like no others." 

Olentangy Schools also planned to hold graduations for its four high schools May 23 at the Schottenstein Center, but Superintendent Mark Raiff announced March 23 in an email to parents the district would have drive-thru graduations like last year. 

A day later in a follow-up email, Raiff wrote: "Currently, the Ohio State University is not allowing outside parties to hold events on campus. Ohio State does not have a date set for re-evaluation of this decision or an estimated date for the end of this mandate. While we can’t speak for other organizations or school districts who have stated that they are holding events in the coming weeks or months at The Schottenstein Center, we have re-confirmed this morning that the above remains the same – the campus and its facilities are not open to outside organizations."

Hilliard announced in January that commencement for graduating seniors at Bradley, Darby and Davidson high schools might be held at Huntington Park, an outdoor venue that is home to the Columbus Clippers minor-league baseball team. 

Because the team’s schedule was not known then, the dates of commencement were in question, Marschhausen said in January. 

He called it “a great idea” during preliminary and contingency discussions but a return to the district’s original plan eliminates the possibility of “rolling thunder” at an outdoor venue such as Huntington Park, Marschhausen said. 

Now that it appears commencements can be held at the Schottenstein Center – the traditional venue for Hilliard’s graduation ceremonies – the districts originally scheduled dates for each school are back in play. 

Davidson graduation is scheduled for May 26, Darby on May 27 and Bradley on May 28. 

As of March 15, each senior will be allowed up to five tickets for family members or guests, Marschhausen said. 

Last year, during the early stages of the pandemic, commencements at the Schottenstein Center were canceled. The districts improvised by having seniors pick up their diplomas in a staggered, drive-thru arrangement at each high school. 

Bradley, Davidson principals announce resignations 

The principals at Hilliard Bradley and Davidson high schools are leaving their posts at the end of the school year. 

Mindy Mordarski, principal at Bradley, has accepted a job as lead principal at the district’s administrative offices. 

Aaron Cookson, principal at Davidson, has accepted a job as a principal at Perrysburg High School in suburban Toledo. 

The job of lead principal at the district’s central office is a new one. 

“(Mordarski) will be working to bridge the communication and collaboration between our building principals and central office staff,” Raterman said. 

The terms of her contract, including compensation, have not determined, Raterman said. 

In accepting a job as principal at Perrysburg, Cookson will return to an area where he previously lived, Superintendent John Marschhausen said. 

Both will serve until the end of their respective contracts July 31, Raterman said. 

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekCorvo