Heat takes a toll on graduates, relatives

Six people treated by EMTs, one hospitalized as temperatures hit record high during GHS ceremony

GRAFTON HIGH SCHOOL held its graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 27, at the school’s athletic field on the hottest day ever recorded in May. The temperature peaked at 95 degrees during the event, and six attendees were treated by the Grafton Fire Department for heat-related illnesses. After the commencement, all 177 seniors threw their caps in the air in celebration. Students (left) used their programs to fan themselves during the ceremony. Photos by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

As 177 seniors walked across the stage to receive their diplomas during Grafton High School’s graduation on Sunday, May 27, a record heat wave stole the show for about half a dozen attendees who suffered from heat-related illnesses.

Sunday broke the all-time record for the hottest day in May, according to the National Weather Service, with temparatures peaking  at 95-degrees during the ceremony on the school’s athletic field at 1:30 p.m. 

According to Grafton Fire Department Division Chief Matt Karpinski, six people ranging from students to older adults experienced symptoms of heat exposure, and one elderly woman was taken to the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton for treatment.

“There were a lot of people sitting around who were having trouble,” he said. “And a lot of people were going to their cars to take shelter from the intense sun. There was really no shade on the field.” 

Supt. Jeff Nelson said the School District contacted the fire department to be at the graduation as a precaution because last year’s ceremony also occurred during extremely hot weather.

“We wanted to be proactive in case there was an incident of someone having heat stroke or heat exhaustion so they could get immediate attention,” he said.

Nelson said he doesn’t want to move future graduation ceremonies inside the school because that would limit the number of people who could attend. But they may consider changing the time so the heat isn’t as intense.

“Principal Scott Mantei and I want to send a survey to parents and hear their feedback so we can decide what to do in the future,” he said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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