Seniors at Fairfield Warde and Fairfield Ludlowe high schools won't have to fret over missing college orientations as the graduation date for the local Class of '13 has been set for Thursday, June 20 -- a week ahead of the last scheduled day of classes.

Greg Hatzis and James Coyne, respective headmasters of Ludlowe and Warde, recommended in a memo to the Board of Education on Tuesday that graduation be held Thursday, June 27, to maximize instruction time. The memo also said having graduation at an earlier date would have a negative impact on exam schedules as well as those classes in which juniors and seniors are both enrolled. They noted that holding commencement on the last day of the academic year has been both schools' practice for many years.

"For practicality purposes, it does create a whole lot of reorganizing," the memo states.

Before Tuesday's meeting, the large number of school days missed during 2012-13 because of Superstorm Sandy last October and the February blizzard had loomed large over the board's earlier discussions of the academic-year calendar.

The school board, however, approved an amendment by board member Jennifer Maxon Kennelly to change this year's graduation date from June 27 to June 20. The board endorsed the amendment and the amended motion by votes of 5-4.

The last day of classes for all other Fairfield public schools remains Thursday, June 27.

Kennelly said the board voted to extend the school year by five days due to inclement weather with the understanding that graduation be held on June 20. She also said she has "complete faith" in high school administration's "creativity" to reorganize their exam schedules given they were still able to hold classes when part of Ludlowe's roof blew off in late January.

Kennelly and board member Jessica Gerber said the seniors should graduate June 20 because many colleges hold their orientations in late June.

"I think freshman orientation is an important issue," Gerber said.

Vice Chairwoman Pamela Iacono disagree, saying the graduation date should stay on June 27, recalling she left for college the same day she graduated from high school.

"The point is people work around it," she said.

Coyne said seniors usually run into scheduling conflicts between orientations and events held at the end of the school year.

"Annually, we have the problem of freshman orientations at universities in June," he said.

Title said seniors are requested to come back to school for three more days after graduation through June 25 to satisfy the state's 180-day requirement, but whether or not they do so is up to them.

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