Parent questions Iowa Lakes graduation limitations


President Newhouse,

I am writing today in regard to the upcoming Spring

Commencement at Iowa Lakes. My son is on track to graduate

and will be participating in commencement ceremony.

For a kid who struggled academically thru high school, he

is very proud and excited of his accomplishment of graduating

from college. My wife and I are extremely proud of

his efforts as well.

However, our excitement was squashed yesterday when

we received notification that there would be limited attendance

at the ceremony. As you are well aware, Iowa

Lakes has decided to have the ceremony indoors and each

graduate is limited to ONE guest that can attend. While

COVID-19 has certainly required changes for all of us, I

would ask that you reconsider this approach to the commencement


By only allowing one guest per graduate, you are asking

that graduate to choose between which parent can attend or

if they are a non-traditional student, which family member

can attend. This is an undue and unnecessary burden to

place on the graduate. Just think back to when you graduated

college - would you have been able to choose which

family member could watch the live ceremony and which

ones had to watch it on television.

Having an in-person, non-limited, graduation ceremony is

not something that is off limits. Your counterparts at Iowa

State are having an outdoor ceremony and are not limiting

attendance. According to President Wintersteen, “We do

not anticipate needing to limit guest attendance due to the

large capacity and outdoor setting of the stadium”. I fully

understand that Iowa Lakes does not have a large outdoor

stadium. However, there are plenty of other outdoor options

that could be utilized to make an outdoor ceremony


This should be a time of celebration. These students have

endured a lot over the last two years and paid a significant

amount of money to become an Iowa Lakes graduate. They

deserve to be able to celebrate it. My son chose Iowa Lakes

over other options and choose to attend paying out-of-state

tuition and being at college over five hours from home.

The graduation ceremony leaves a bad impression at a time

when he is ready to enter the workforce and tell everyone

the great experience, he had at Iowa Lakes.

Again, I would ask that you please reconsider your stance

on limiting guests and/or consider an outdoor venue in

which to hold the ceremony. Thank you for your consideration.

Kevin Fries

Editor’s note: Iowa Lakes President Valerie Newhouse

gave the Estherville News permission to publish her response

to these concerns about this year’s graduation ceremoney

at the college.

Mr Fries

Congratulations to your son on his great accomplishment

and thank you for taking the time to write expressing your

concern about the spring graduation ceremony at Iowa

Lakes Community College.

Employees at the college have thoroughly reviewed our

options, solicited student input and based decisions on

safety during this time. Celebrating our graduate’s achievements

in-person is our goal rather than hosting a virtual celebration.

In northwest Iowa, May is not the best month to

try to plan something outside, so we only looked at what we

could do inside. The decision was made and students were

notified of our plan in early February, based on coronavirus

numbers at the time.

We continue to monitor the positivity rates, and we hope

we can relax the number and allow two guests per graduate

as time gets closer, but students, employees and family

safety must remain our top priority.


Valerie Newhouse


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