Graduations set for Saturday

Published 11:23 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Suffolk’s public high school seniors are set to walk across the stage and take the next step in their lives Saturday.

Family, friends, teachers and other community members will gather for the graduation ceremonies, which will take place in the schools’ gymnasiums, with a simulcast in the auditoriums.

Graduation will take place for Nansemond River High School at 9 a.m., Lakeland High School at 11:30 a.m. and King’s Fork High School at 2 p.m.

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King’s Fork assistant principal DeBerry Goodwin said he recommends attendees arrive as early as possible to the ceremony, because no one will be allowed to enter once the seniors walk in.

“Basically, early is on time, and on time is late,” he said.

Goodwin said one of the biggest problems during graduation ceremonies is people arriving after the graduates have made their way into the gym.

Many people get upset that they can’t come in, Goodwin said, but because it is a formal ceremony, they cannot allow people in after the event starts. He said they might be able to accommodate latecomers in the auditorium.

Goodwin suggests people start arriving at King’s Fork around 1 p.m. Guests in wheelchairs and senior citizens will be able to enter the school’s front doors, but all other guests should enter through the side cafeteria doors.

Lakeland principal Thomas Whitley shared Goodwin’s sentiment.

“Once that ceremony begins, you won’t be allowed to enter the facility,” he said.

He said graduation runs more smoothly when people arrive early. The doors will open at Lakeland an hour before the ceremony.

In addition to arriving early, people attending the graduations need to make sure they have tickets.

The students are given a certain amount of gymnasium and auditorium tickets to distribute to their family and friends. Anyone arriving without a ticket will not be allowed into the graduation.

Whitley said during his time at Lakeland, people have come up with all kinds of reasons why they don’t have a ticket, but still, no one will be admitted without one.

As an alternative, people without tickets or those unable to travel long distances can watch the graduation ceremonies using the Suffolk Public Schools’ grad cam, a live video stream of the event available online.

Both Whitley and Goodwin said they would issue a reminder about proper etiquette before the ceremony.

Goodwin said he understands how excited attendees are for their graduates, but he hopes they are respectful of the other seniors as well.

“You expect that parents will hold applause for all the graduates to be announced,” he said.

Whitley advised attendees against bringing noisemakers or anything that can obstruct other guests’ views, like large balloon bouquets.

Goodwin said he is very excited for this year’s graduation.

“This time of year just reminds you of the excitement and the promise that each of the students holds for the future,” he said.

For more information on the graduation ceremonies and the grad cam, visit