Bring plenty of bottled water

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, May 16, 2013

Whatever happens during the graduation ceremonies at Suffolk’s public high schools June 8, school administrators hope there will be a big difference from those of the recent past: Nobody who expected to have a chance to witness the momentous occasion will be left standing outside.

With Suffolk’s public high schools planning outdoor graduations this year for the first time in more than a decade, everybody from parents to students to administrators and teachers is hoping for a rain-free day. It might be too much to ask for mild temperatures in June, but they’d all likely be happy to avoid roasting under the hot sun, anyway.

Mostly — and especially in the case of those administrators who had to tell some distressed ticket-holders last year that there was no room for them in the over-packed gymnasiums where graduations were held — they’re hoping for a series of orderly events in which everyone who expects to watch a graduate walk across the stage actually gets to do so.

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Which is not to say that everyone with a ticket is guaranteed admission. This year, each senior will get four red, two yellow and four orange tickets to distribute to family and friends. If administrators decide to move ceremonies indoors because of inclement weather, the four red tickets will gain admission to the gym and the two yellow tickets to the auditorium. Those with orange tickets will have to stay at home following notification before the ceremonies about the change of venue.

The key to the system is advance planning, and that’s where students and their families can affect whether the events come off well or turn into pandemonium. Participants will need to carefully choose who gets which tickets, and they’ll need to adhere to the instructions of school administrators on graduation day. If the weather forces the ceremonies inside, people with orange tickets who show up hoping for a seat can cause things to unravel very quickly.

Another point of advance planning will be in what to bring. In an effort to ensure a level of decorum, administrators already have asked those attending to leave their noisemakers at home. Considering the likelihood that Tidewater’s famous hot and muggy summer climate will already be asserting itself by the end of spring, hats and bottled water might be a better choice than noisemakers for an outdoor graduation, anyway.