Highland Park High School's graduation saved

Commencement was almost cancelled

DETROIT - Thursday was graduation day at the Masonic Temple in downtown Detroit for Highland Park's class of 2012. Among the pomp and circumstance, applause and cheers, there's relief because the graduation almost didn't happen.

"I called Dorothy at the Masonic temple to explain to her that we were not able to satisfy the rental agreement," said Highland Park Superintendent, Edith D. Hightower.

The school district is in financial turmoil and under control of an emergency manager. The financial situation is so bad it nearly cost roughly 70 students a once in a lifetime opportunity. Soon after the superintendent got off the phone with a staffer at the Masonic, the woman called back.

"We hung up, 10 minutes later she called back and she said we worked out some things," said Hightower.

In that moment, graduation day was saved. The Masonic donated the space. Production crews, ushers and a security team volunteered their time. All came with a $6,000price tag.

"I put my faith in God that everything was going to work out right and it did," said parent Melissa Ross.

Graduating senior, and valedictorian, Dominique Simmons said, "I wanted it to be here originally because I had been here before and I saw how it looked and I really wanted to be here. So I'm glad I was able to have my graduation here."

The superintendent had this to say after the ceremony, "We want the kids to have that memory, it's a memory they can build on."

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