A great day for graduations

Published 9:04 pm Thursday, June 16, 2016

Now that things have calmed down a bit, we can offer a grand assessment of the graduation ceremonies held last Saturday for Suffolk Public Schools: What a fine series of events they were, and what a smart decision by the School Board to hold them all in one large indoor venue, even if that venue was in Norfolk.

Considering the heat index over the weekend, outdoor graduations for King’s Fork, Lakeland and Nansemond River high schools could have been brutal affairs during which emergency workers were attending to victims of heat exhaustion and other heat-related maladies.

Instead, The Ted Constant Convocation Center at Old Dominion University in Norfolk was actually the slightest bit chilly by the end of the day. Not that anyone complained, mind you, because by the time they’d reached their cars in the nearby parking garages, the perspiration was already building.

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Held at the schools, as they all were until a couple of years ago, public school graduations in Suffolk would have been invitation-only affairs, and students would have been limited to inviting no more than 10 family members and friends. If rain had forced a move inside the schools’ gymnasiums, some of those 10 would have been forced to find a screen to watch the ceremonies being streamed online.

At The Ted, entire families were able to come along, with no worries about filling the available seats. In fact, even with prime seating going first, there were still plenty of seats open during each of the three ceremonies.

During previous graduation days, School Board members and members of the administration had to be shuttled from one school to the other throughout the day. By the end of it — especially on a hot day — it was hard for them not to look drained. But holding ceremonies at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. at the same venue gave them enough time to freshen up in between, grab a bite to eat and prepare themselves to put on the best ceremony possible for the next school on the list.

Most folks surely would have preferred not to have spent the gas or toll money it took to drive to Norfolk for graduations. But we’ll bet there were few complaints about the new system at the end of the day.