- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
After this year’s graduating class, Charles County public high school graduates no longer will receive their diplomas on a stage in Prince George’s County.
Graduation ceremonies will come home to the county in 2015.
Parents said this will be a welcome change and one that could bring money to the county.
The change reverses a 13-year-old practice of holding the ceremonies at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.
“Graduation is an important milestone, and one that I believe should take place right here in our own community,” Superintendent of Schools Kimberly A. Hill said in a news release from the school system.
A policy decision at the Show Place Arena, where graduations have been held also played into the decision to bring the ceremonies back to Charles County.
Maurice J. McDonough High School relocated its graduation from the school to the Show Place Arena in 1995, a move gradually followed by the other high schools. By 2001, all five county public high schools held ceremonies at the Prince George’s facility. North Point High School has used its convocation center, which has seating for nearly 4,700, for graduation ceremonies since the first class graduated in 2009.
The school system historically has held three graduations a day throughout the course of two days for the ceremonies.
The Show Place Arena changed its rules to allow for only two graduations each day.
As a result, the 2014 graduations will be spread across three days beginning May 30, creating challenges for after-graduation activities such as Project Graduation, the release states.
The school system secures graduation dates, times and locations more than a year in advance, locking in the Show Place Arena for this school year.
“Provided there is adequate space for parking and easy access,” bringing the graduations to a venue in Charles County is a great idea, said Cindy Kercher of Port Tobacco, the mother of two former graduates.
Kercher said graduation is the most important rite of passage for children, and many family members like to attend the ceremonies. The only thing that bothered her about the ceremonies held outside of the county were the logistics involved in getting family to the arena.
Aside from the simple fact that the ceremonies will be held in the county where the students live, Kercher said the change provides an opportunity for money to stay in the county.
“It’s always a celebration,” she said of graduation, adding that many people dine out after the ceremony. “You’ll spend money where it is convenient.”
Having the ceremony in Charles County betters the chances money stays in the county, she said.
Parent Colleen Longhi said she has a senior graduating from North Point this year. While she and her family are not directly affected by the change, she said she is happy to hear the news. She agreed with Kercher, saying the change would bring money back to the county.
Principals already have begun planning for next year and have asked the class of 2015 parents and students for feedback about possible graduation locations.
A 2015 graduation location survey for parent and student input is posted on the school system’s website at www.ccboe.com and on each school’s website.
“Schools will determine their graduation location and can choose to hold graduations at their own facility, in the convocation center at North Point High School or at another Charles County venue. It is up to the principal and school community to decide,” Hill said in the release.