Westfield parents upset after severe weather hits graduation ceremony

Westfield parents say officials failed to act when rain soaked graduation

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — Parents in the Westfield Washington Schools district are upset after they say severe weather put the high school’s outdoor graduation ceremony in danger.

The parents say they believe district officials didn’t do enough to protect parents and students. 

Rain poured on parents and students Thursday night at Westfield High School’s graduation ceremony. 

Nearly 600 graduates were on the football field as thunder boomed and lightning lit up the skies.

Storm Track 8 Chief Meteorologist Ashley Brown confirmed a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Hamilton County at 6:19 p.m. Parents were frustrated as they awaited for the officials to call off the ceremony that was supposed to start at 7 p.m. 

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Parent Brian Roeller said, “I think they really need to address some of the people that made the decisions. I think there should be some fallback for it. There were thousands of lives put in danger last night, point-blank, no question about it.”

Parent Allen Bainbridge said, “As I’m looking above the students, I can see what looks like a wall cloud or something starting to form right above them and I thought they’re surely going to call it now.”

Some students were in the elements for about two hours. It was not until 8 p.m. when school officials made the decision to cancel Thursday’s ceremony after some parents left with their kids. 

Parents hope for school officials to put in place protocol that will prevent this happening again.

“We need to increase everyone’s awareness level on how dangerous lightning is. And if you hear thunder, you need to take it very seriously and move on and change up and go to safety. Go to some place and suspend your whatever you’re doing,” said Jay Dyer, the grandparent of a graduate. 

The graduation ceremony was rescheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday on Westfield High School’s campus.  


Westfield High School Principal Stacy McGuire:

“There is no perfect solution or scenario. If there was, rest assured, we would be doing it.  We are always open to considering other options for our commencement ceremony and will continue to pursue what we believe to be in the best interest of serving our graduates’ needs.”