Throwing elbows for graduation seats

By Mary Dickson

Graduation day for this year’s seniors might not meet up to their expectations.

In the past, Avon’s graduation ceremony has been held in the school’s main gymnasium. But, with growing student population, this room is not large enough for the number of friends and family that want to attend the event. Therefore, last year, AHS started issuing tickets to its graduates.

Because seats for graduation were tough to get, administration tried to even the playing field for each senior. Therefore, last year, each of the 255 seniors were given 7 tickets to distribute between their guests. Brandon Gregg, who graduated last year, said that that number was not as many as he needed to seat all of his family members who wanted to attend. Thus began this search for tickets. Eventually, Brandon found a friend who donated one ticket to him. Devon Delorge was able to donate a ticket to Brandon because she and her brother were graduating the same year; therefore, between them both, they had 14 tickets for the graduation ceremony. Because they only needed a few of the tickets, they were able to loan one to Brandon. This still meant that his parents had to arrive early enough on the day of commencement to scavenge around to find additional seating.

But even those with tickets were not met with a pleasant seating arrangement. Those with tickets arrived to the ceremony to find a completely “jammed” (as one former senior described it) gymnasium. Needless to say, many students and parents alike were miffed.

Courtney Clark, who also graduated in 2011, was also faced with the dilemma of finding additional tickets. In retrospect, Courtney said the placement of graduation in the gymnasium was inappropriate for how large the graduating classes at Avon have grown. “Everyone agreed that [graduation] would [have been] nice to have at the football stadium, especially because it is fairly new,” Courtney said, having it there would have “eliminated the cluster and humidity of the gym.”

Avon High Principal Mrs. Kristina Buller said that she is aware of the issues with the location of Avon’s graduation ceremony, but said there is not much she can do about the venue this year.

Plans for the location of the 2012 graduation are the same as in the past. It will take place in the Avon High School gymnasium, and each student will be given seven tickets. However, not all ticket holders will be seated in the gym. Each of this year’s 263 students this year will be given seven tickets, but two of these tickets will not be for gym seating; these individuals will be seated in the auditorium area of the high school where they will watch the ceremony via large projectors.

According to Buller, this is not a situation she had hoped for, but one she is required to implement. “The Avon Fire Department found the school in violation of overseating the gym during the ceremony [last year],” Buller explained. In order to stay within fire code this year, “we will adhere to the posted gym capacity requirements determined by the Avon Fire Department.”

But meeting fire code is not the main focus of those seniors and their families who want to view the ceremony first hand. Senior Breana Cain and her family said that they “are not happy about [the fact that a few of the tickets will be used to seat family members in the auditorium].” Because of the schools decision to again house graduation in the gym, Breana and her family are forced to choose who to seat in the auditorium. “[Graduation ceremony is] a big experience, and family members like grandparents won’t be there [in the actual room] to see it,” said Breana.

So why not have the ceremony outside?

Avon Lake High School also has a large graduating class. They meet the needs of their students by having the ceremony outside on the football field. Mrs. Liesa Wetzig, secretary to Dr. Joanie Walker, principal of ALHS told EN that recently, following the requests of students, graduation was planned for outside. If weather becomes an issue, Wetzig told, “an announcement [would be made by] 8 a.m.” letting participants know that the venue has relocated indoors. Wetzig said that the move to an outside ceremony last year ended up working well. “Last year’s ceremony was great; you could view the whole graduating class from the stands, unlike when it is held indoors,” she explained.

Many seniors interviewed told EN that having the graduation ceremony at the football stadium like Avon Lake HS would be a welcome change. Senior Anne Puzak explained that the current venue just does not work. Last year it was so crowded that Anne said she actually “lost her family” in the crowd.

While Buller said that she recognized that hosting the event outside would give more seating for guests, she said she does not make the final decision about its location “[The] Avon Board of Education sets the location.” Futhermore, she told that the last three times that the event was held outdoors, “two were [on days of a] downpour.”

Future graduation ceremonies might be better, explained Buller. That is because next year the “Avon BOE has elected to move commencement to a bigger venue…” at Cleveland State University.



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