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Graduates to have stadium ceremonies

Published 10:48pm Thursday, March 14, 2013

Suffolk Public Schools’ 2013 high school graduation ceremonies will be held outdoors to provide greater audience capacity after an unexpected vote at Thursday’s School Board meeting.

But what happens beyond the forthcoming graduation remains a question for the future.

Board members voted unanimously to hold ceremonies outside in stadiums, allowing 10 tickets per graduate as opposed to six, including four for the gym and two for the auditorium.

Thursday’s debate was opened by district Superintendent Deran Whitney with: “If we are talking about a change … I think we probably should make some decision (at) this time for this year.”

Board members Linda Bouchard, Diane Foster and Lorraine Skeeter voiced support for the stadium option early in the debate, though Skeeter questioned whether many more tickets would be available.

Each student would be allocated up to 10 tickets, Whitney replied, adding that the district would have to find the money to plan for alternative options in case of rain.

Enoch Copeland was supportive of stadium graduations but stipulated that principals would need to impress upon students that the occasion would be “just as formal as it was inside,” and that they would need to “conduct themselves accordingly.”

School district officials have studied the issue for the past three years, board Chairman Michael Debranski said.

“Each year we have answered those requests,” he said, adding it might not have been the preferred answer for everyone.

The issue arose again last June, when ticket-holders were turned away from Nansemond River High School’s event because the gym was full.

Board member Judith Brooks-Buck, though acknowledging it would be too late to do so for this year, suggested polling the families of all graduating seniors, “so we know exactly what our constituents would like us to do.”

“There are very different views,” Bouchard chimed in. “ There are people who are very strong in favor of moving graduations out of Suffolk,” because the city has no appropriate indoor venue.

“Also, families feel just as strongly it should be a vital part of Suffolk. … I would not like to make a decision based on any activist group, not that there is one. That would not be a fair way to do it.”

Copeland said he was “glad to hear the different opinions from the various board members about this matter.

“I feel that education is very important to all of us.”


    I SAY THE STADIUM…..No extra $$’s spent on a DIFFERENT venue. Even if they raise the $ themselves, what/who would pay the difference OR SHORTFALL IF THERE WAS ONE?

    Suggest Removal

  • truly

    It is about time!
    I remember having stadium ceremonies, and it was much better. Instead of a limited number of guests, the participant can have everyone there that wants to see him/her partake an important milestone in life. If it rains, the ceremony will be moved inside to the gym with a live feed in the auditorium, similar to the way they have been doing it for the last few years. Times will most likely be the same, so bring some towels for wiping sweat. It is very worth it to see a family memeber or friend graduate. If parents, friends, and family can’t withstand a few hours of sweating to see such an important life event, then don’t attend….

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  • rjones202

    what happens if it rains?

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    • suffolklady

      Then it goes back to the gym, with the same number of tickets as before. This is the very reason that SPS moved all ceremonies inside a few years back. It was too difficult to deal with the families whenever it rained and not all were allowed inside.

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  • am

    I certainly hope that they are considering the times as well. The 11:30am and 2:00pm ceremonies will be HOT. After all, it is June.

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    • suffolklady

      I agree completely! My HS graduation was held in the stadium as well, but it was in the evening when it was cooler. I think that Suffolk needs to think outside the box a bit more. All three graduations do not need to occur consecutively on the same day.

      ‘Enoch Copeland was supportive of stadium graduations but stipulated that principals would need to impress upon students that the occasion would be “just as formal as it was inside,” and that they would need to “conduct themselves accordingly.” ‘
      Has he ever actually BEEN to a graduation?? Between the behavior of the parents and the students, very little is “formal” about them.

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      • am

        I agree. The behavior is a joke! I remember one year that someone brought their dog and the owner was wearing BIG hair rollers! Really People?

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