FRANKFORT, Ill. (WLS) --The final graduation ceremony for Lincoln-Way North High School is being held Wednesday night.
Financial troubles and declining enrollment are forcing the southwest suburban school to close, despite efforts by parents to keep it open.
In the final year for a school that was built to serve a growing population that never materialized, graduation is more bittersweet than usual.
"I think people need to be held accountable for the wrongdoing that has taken place here," said Tom Anderson, the parent of a student.
Anderson was talking of District 210's decision last fall to close Lincoln-Way North and disperse its students to the districts three other high schools. The move was necessitated by declining enrollment and what many say are a series of questionable decisions by the school board to expand. Even a federal investigation has started.
"I hope it is on people's minds because the school is closing," Anderson said. "Money is wasted pretty much. I mean what are they going to do with this building now?"
Nevertheless, the class of 2016 crosses the stage Wednesday night.
The anticipation was palpable for many as they left graduation rehearsal.
Graduating senior Lexi Koeski has a sibling who will be shipped to another school. Like many, she hopes there are no protests.
"I think they will make it more about us I hope, Koeski said. "It's a special day for us, definitely."
The principal and a star pupil said the controversy has made this class stronger
Principal Mark Cohen said the toughest part of the year was, "The accepting of the challenge that they are going to leave their mark and that they were going to be in the spotlight. We told them that the very first day of school that they were going to be in the spotlight."
Valedictorian Hanna Goss said, "With all the chaos you want to work harder because people are watching so I think that is clear from our academic success, our athletic success. We had a great year."
Still, for the taxpayers who wonder what will happen to this institution, graduate parent Eileen Maylone said, "It's a fabulous school. I can't say enough about the teachers. I can't say enough about what a great job they do, but it's more than just a school. It's really the hub of our community."
The thought her younger daughter won't get to experience what her senior does Wednesday night should at least yield to a lesson.
"I hope that the kids carry that forward and realize next April when there's five seats up for the school board that their vote will definitely count," Maylone said.
Maylone is part of a lawsuit filed in Will County to keep the school open.
School board members are expected to be part ceremony.