Schreiber Ends Long-standing Graduation Day Tradition

Graduation ceremony, Gambol to take place on different days in 2014.

Schreiber seniors walk the red carpet at a recent Gambol. (Patch file photo.)
Schreiber seniors walk the red carpet at a recent Gambol. (Patch file photo.)

Schreiber High School officials announced last month a change to the long-standing tradition of scheduling the annual graduation ceremony and Gambol on the same day.

School officials said in a letter to parents on Dec. 14 that the 2014 graduation ceremony has been moved from Friday, June 27 to Thursday, June 26 at 5:30 p.m. 

"We believe that this move will allow families to spend more time together after the ceremony and give students a full day on Friday to prepare for the excitement of the Gambol," said Schrieber Principal Ira Pernick in the letter.

The move was made because over the past few years officials have become increasingly concerned with the stress placed on students and their families on graduation and Gambol day, according to the letter.

"After speaking with parents about the overall lack of time they have to celebrate their child’s graduation to listening to students talk about their own maddening schedule before Gambol, it became clear that we need to do something to provide a small measure of relief," said Pernick.

The Gambol, which normally occurs on graduation day, first took place at Schrieber High School in 1952. Supported by fundraising events and donations from parents of Schreiber seniors as well as local businesses and residents, the event has been a rite of passage for high school seniors in Port Washington for more than 60 years. 

School officials said the decision was made after consultation with the board of education, district administration, Schreiber HSA, Port Washington Police District and Port Washington Fire Department.

"In having spoken to both students and parents there did not seem to be much discussion about it," said one parent to Patch regarding the change.

Pernick said he was confident that the new 5:30 p.m. graduation start time will help avoid intense and sometimes dangerous heat of a mid-morning graduation.

Do you like the change of schedule? Let us know in the comments section.

Stacey Peltz January 02, 2014 at 08:39 PM
Dawn Andrew January 02, 2014 at 10:53 PM
This is nice for those who do not have children graduating from Weber, which is earlier that day. The Weber moving up celebration is now the same time as Schreiber graduation which means younger siblings will have to choose between watching their brother or sister graduate or their own party. Additionally parents cannot volunteer for the 8 grade party because they will be at their older child's graduation. We cannot even drop the 8 graders off at the bus to go to their party. There are at least 26 families affected and everyone of them is equally upset. Will be an interesting board of ed meeting on Tuesday. It should have been resolved last year so the graduations and celebrations did not confict.
BeachGal January 03, 2014 at 12:33 AM
Move the Gambol back to the Schreiber gym and havethe party from 10pm to 6am. That schedule worked for years. It's too bad PWers don't value local traditions anymore.
Arguendo January 03, 2014 at 06:14 AM
Following on the suggestion to bring the Gambol back to the Schreiber gym, I'll second that and raise you one, advancing this 2012 proposition again. The Gambol is a Port Washington institution, as much for parents (where we have served as volunteers on multiple occasions and enjoyed the event ourselves as our kids participated in the red carpet entrance) as for the graduates themselves. Over the years, however, Gambol sophistication, complexity and production finances, as well as ancillary spending by the kids themselves (subsidized by parents) on dresses, tuxes, flowers, limos and pre- and after-parties have risen in magnitude to a level of unquestionable wretched excess. Too late for this go around in 2014, but some thoughts for parents and the class of 2015 and beyond: what sort of enduring statement would a quarter million dollar scholarship fund and/or charitable donation make? That's a conservative estimate of the total spend for recent Gambols, and inflation means it will simply be more next time around. So, I repeat: what sort of statement would an annual quarter million or more "Class of 201X" donation or scholarship fund make? Not to mention it would make a great college application essay. Think about it.
D.H. January 03, 2014 at 07:26 AM
I also agree that've the amount spent on the Gambol is ridiculous. The fundraising begins with the first events and meetings when they are in 11th grade. I was told that the Gambol is our present to our kids for their hard work. So silly...possibly they should be thanking us for all of the extra classes, sports, tutors and support we have given them. I love my child, but a regular party at any hall would be a quarter of the price and just as much fun. Things need to be toned down. All of that money that is raised could be put to such better use!
Lori January 03, 2014 at 07:35 AM
Agree. Time and money could be better spent and it has become a pageant of sorts publicly emphasizing the biggest limos, most unique or expensive gowns and shoes, etc. How about really giving grandparents and families more time with their children on graduation day by moving the Gambol to the week before graduation like all other districts do. Also makes the students more accountable for their actions prior to graduating.
christina January 03, 2014 at 07:41 AM
The GAMBOL was a right of passage, a party that took place at Schreiber HS. A "Labor of Love" put together by parents, families, and friends of graduating seniors. The challenge and victory of The Gambol was transforming an ordinary school gym into a themed fantasyland. In recent years, it has become something else, first moving it off site, and now, moving the date causing conflict with other school ceremonies 62 years of a tradition changed, that wasn't broken. This is truly a shame. As far as I'm concerned, the "Gambol" is no longer a "Gambol" anymore.
sadeto January 03, 2014 at 08:42 AM
Put it to a vote by the graduating class, explain exactly what the choices are given a set fundraising goal, let them decide. Unfortunately, that would never happen, because the Gambol is all about the small group of parents who control the HSA, and what they want.
Stacey Peltz January 03, 2014 at 02:07 PM
Having graduation in the morning, preparation all day, and the Gambol at night is too stressful for the participants. Isn't that what we should be focused on? And, the Gambol is not about the small group of parents who control the HSA. For the last two years, I have been involved in the Gambol, without ever going to a single HSA meeting. It is still a labor of love from the parents, albeit an unfortunately small group. However, that group could be much, much larger if more parents participate. A few hours of your time is all it takes. As to the location, that's incidental to the tradition, but consider this: Have it at the school and you have about 2 days, tops, to move everything in and set it up. Have it in Sands Point, and you have ten days to do the same. With the low volunteer rate, I think the latter is a better choice.
lori January 03, 2014 at 02:41 PM
As a Schreiber alum who will be a Schreiber parent beginning next year, I have to say this is sad news and I am glad I have a few years to try and change it back (great to get it back in the gym too). There was something wonderfully unique and special about the gambol....it wasn't a prom, it was the gambol. I understand that for parents the easier and more convenient way is to move it....but as a former student it's a huge mistake. The celebration in our gym...that night....starting at 10pm....was what we all remember and it was truly a gift from our parents (more than endless fundraising, it was an opportunity for working parents to participate in so many ways, from carpentry to chaperoning ....endless opportunities). Hoping this will be an off year... sorry class of 2014.
Marcelo da Silva January 03, 2014 at 03:04 PM
I guess the magic is gone. It sure was good while we had it.
emily beys January 03, 2014 at 05:21 PM
The Gambol is not gone. The date of graduation has just changed. The conflict with the Weber party, another HSA event is currently being worked on ( as Dawn is aware). There is plenty of opportunity for ALL parents to get involved and help with all aspects of the event from carpentry to chaperoning and many more. It is amazing to see the multitude of parents and community members who help make it such an amazing and truly unique experience for our graduates. With regard to moving it back to the gymnasium, that has been revisited many times and ultimately, when both parents and students are asked to bring it back, the response has been to leave it at the preserve. The cost is something every Gambol team works to keep low, however, some things are not in our control. After all, when the Gambol first started, we did not have Patch.com, nor could have imagined the concept, as an avenue for us to share our thoughts. We have evolved.
lori January 03, 2014 at 06:05 PM
Sorry, Emily, and Stacey and everyone...but the Gambol has changed. The day before is vastly different as is the locale. It's a prom now like other places. Trust me. Ask some alums from the days of the gambol (the real one) and you will learn so much. You need to learn about what it was to understand it. It would be great if the kids today could experience it. And the parents too. It's about more than convenience and scheduling.
Lori January 03, 2014 at 06:29 PM
Hi all, Please re-read the note carefully -- the graduation date/time has changed NOT the GAMBOL date or location... unless the initial communication was written incorrectly, it is saying the graduation ceremony has moved to the thurday evening which is putting it in conflict with the weber date. From the article: "School officials said in a letter to parents on Dec. 14 that the 2014 graduation ceremony has been moved from Friday, June 27 to Thursday, June 26 at 5:30 p.m. We believe that this move will allow families to spend more time together after the ceremony and give students a full day on Friday to prepare for the excitement of the Gambol," said Schrieber Principal Ira Pernick in the letter.
Stacey Peltz January 03, 2014 at 06:38 PM
It absolutely is not a prom like any other. I've been involved with the Gambol. I've been to a prom. They are not the same. The Gambol is a lovely community event; the location of which is incidental to the occasion. It's the people, not the place.
lori January 03, 2014 at 06:51 PM
It may still be a lovely community event....and I usually agree with the argument that location doesn't matter....but have to disagree here. Seeing the gym magically transformed was incredible ....at 17/18 you could appreciate all that went onto it bc ot was the gym! And the timing was so special....a real celebration. It was alsoo great (and safe) when it started at 10pm. If you had experienced it you would understand. Gonna try and get it back.
Dawn Andrew January 03, 2014 at 07:22 PM
I have only been to the Gambol the past two years so I have nothing to compare it to and it is amazing. The amount of work that goes into it and the vibe of the space is very special. I am sure it was great when it was in the gym, and maybe in the future that is where it belongs, but for this year it is where it has been the past few years. No one should be taking it out on the the Class of 2014, because the students were not involved in the decision to change graduation. For the past few months, the seniors have only been focused on college applications, figuing out if they should apply early decision, early action, regular decision and dealing with problems with the common application. There have been dedicated parents at the monthly meetings working really hard to get the Gambol off the ground. Hopefully the conflict with Weber will be resolved and everyone will be happy or close to happy as they are going to get.
christina January 03, 2014 at 08:06 PM
If you didn't grow up in PW and truly understand what the "GAMBOL" was, then you have no understanding. IT IS THE PLACE...........over the last 62 yrs (prior to the move to the Preseve) the concept of "THE GAMBOL" was featured on several news shows, talks shows , and Newsday because of it's UNIQUENESS of being an ordinary school local transformed into a themed event. THE "Magic" of it is how amazing the ordinary space of the gym and hallways were re-created for a memorable, and spectacular evening. Now, it's a prom like any other.......for 62 years, parents, students and families managed to get through the graduation and excitement of the Gambol to follow. All of a sudden families can't handle it? Ask your senior where they want to be after graduation, I bet 99% say partying with their friends! Oh, and if it were in the gym still, the cost would most definitely be lower than renting the Preserve.
BeachGal January 03, 2014 at 08:43 PM
A handful of traditional community events create the uniqueness of each small town. Sometimes PW gets it right like saving Main Street School and creating a park out of the Merriman school grounds. Unfortunately with the Gambol, an event specifically scheduled to keep overly excited graduates having a good time while staying safely in the gym all night. Now the parents in charge have turned it into a celebration of excess. Gamboling - sure it's good to expose kids to addictive behavior. The red carpet - think of the stress that puts on a young girls body image...And where are the school officials who shouldknow that these things aren't good for kids? The Gambol was special because it is the last time your wholo class will be together. Isn't that enough to celebrate?
Elee Phillips January 04, 2014 at 12:59 AM
I left PW a long time ago and moved 3000 miles away, but I do remember my Gambol. Both my sons have graduated from HS and here at there school I was pleased that the parents did something very similar to what PW did. On graduation night the gymnasium and adjacent school yard was converted into a themed playground complete with music, casino, games and more. But the most important thing is that it is at the school that the seniors are leaving. It is their last chance to say goodbye to thir friends and to the place that they spent the last four years. The importance of having it on graduation day is to assure that the seniors are in a safe place close to home while they celebrate, under the guidance of their parents. PW has done it for 60 years and our city has been doing it for 30 - somethings are just important enough to continue.
Dean Nardone January 04, 2014 at 07:17 PM
Was anyone at a public meeting (Board of Education, HSA, coffee with the principal, etc.) where the change of graduation was on an agenda? If so, please post about when that meeting was and where it was held. As an ex-BOE member, I still look at their agendas and don't remember seeing it there. Anyone? Thanks.
Richard Sussman January 27, 2014 at 10:14 AM
The subject is a lot more complicated than the comments here make it sound. In years past the Gambol was worked on by the parent volunteers during the school year at the closed Salem School. Since they had so much space to work in, the work expanded a considerable amount. It really was a magic event worthy of any Broadway production. When the Salem school opened the space was no longer available and renting similar space would be cost prohibitive. Ideas were floated about maybe using the gatehouse which is owned by the school district. I don't see any mention of the financial impact of moving the date. The board should consider that when making a decision. In any case a decision to change the Gambol back to Schreiber or whatever should be made considering all factors and not done in haste as this one seems to be done.
lori January 27, 2014 at 10:55 AM
The gambol was at the gym long before Salem school was empty...so that's not it. Btw, in addition to changing the wonderful tradition of having graduation on the same day as the gambol, in the name of convenience, now Weber students will not be able to go to lunch with their families following their graduation. The party is at noon on the same day as the morning Weber ceremony. This is absolutely ridiculous.So sad the way the town is changing in the interest of convenience and whiny parents, which always results in whiny and stressed out children.I have been both a student and parent in this town, & I can tell you that it was perfect the way it was....
BeachGal January 27, 2014 at 11:41 AM
When I went to the Gambol, there were students at Salem School, and when my mother went to the Gambol, Salem School had not been built yet! So this really is not the issue. When Salem was closed it did make it easier for the parents to create scenery, etc. I agree with Lori ablove, that instead of this being an event for the kids - it seems more about the parents. If you don't believe me, see how the parents act at the ridiculous (and unnesasary) red carpet arrival. And if you moved to Port Washington because you liked the community-you should try to respect their traditions. Lastly, both Port and Manhasset went to the Gambol/Frolic in the gym on the night of graduation because there was a terrible accident in the past. I would hate to see that happen again because now these kids will be graduates on Thursday and don't have to be anywhere until Friday night. If you don't think these kids aren't going to party somewhere, you are kidding yourselves! And how is it that Manhasset still has the Frolic in the gym on the night of graduation?
lori January 27, 2014 at 12:17 PM
Great point about partying. I specifically recall being too busy to party before going to the gambol and had forgotten that that was one very good reason why it was on the same day. it was a lot of running around and a very busy day for sure, if it is too much how about they eliminate the ridiculous red carpet. I am fine when traditions change for good reason, but in this case it seems to go against the very real reasons for the waY it was in the first place.
Richard Sussman January 27, 2014 at 01:50 PM
I understand the Gambol existed before Salem was closed but I think given all the space, they expanded it and embellished it even more. When Salem reopened I know they were looking for space and to rent the space at that time was over $1000,000 per year. I would love for it to return to the gym but let's do it after we have all the facts including logistics, finances etc. We can then have an informed discussion.


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