Originally created 05/25/04

Graduates get bright forecast



Knock on wood, but it looks good for the Richmond County school district's initial attempt at outdoor stadium graduations.

The weather forecast for Wednesday evening calls for party cloudy skies with only a 20 percent chance of rain, said Leonard Vaughan, of the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C.

"There's 80 percent chance it won't rain," Mr. Vaughan said. "But there's a small chance of an isolated thunderstorm. The areas more north of Augusta have a better chance."

The Board of Education's decision to move seven graduations from the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center to individual stadiums has caused some controversy. Rain could force ceremonies to smaller, indoor gymnasiums, limiting the number of guests a graduate can have. Schools spent last week practicing for both and providing each senior with a handful of tickets for a gym ceremony.

But even with nice weather Wednesday night, the school board is expected to review graduation policies because holding simultaneous ceremonies makes some people miss the big day for other relatives or friends.

Board President Jeff Padgett said some board members have suggested staggering graduation times in the future.

The district's two senior-level magnet schools and Lucy C. Laney High School - where stadium construction is incomplete - will hold graduations today at Bell Auditorium. The other seven will hold stadium graduations Wednesday night.

Some seniors are angered by the switch.

For years, Sharleen Hacker watched friends and relatives graduate from the civic center and shake the hand of Superintendent Charles Larke. Now it's her turn to graduate from T.W. Josey High School, and she doesn't expect Dr. Larke to make all seven graduations.

"I am the last Hacker to graduate, so it is like this big, old thing," Sharleen said. "The only question us seniors are asking is why. Why didn't they ask us how we felt about it? There was no kind of poll on how we would feel."

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.

When they Walk

The Richmond County school district will hold graduation ceremonies for 10 high schools today and Wednesday.
Today at Bell Auditorium:
Davidson, 3 p.m.; Johnson, 4:30 p.m.; Laney, 6 p.m.

Wednesday at each high school's stadium:
Westside, 7 p.m.; Butler, Cross Creek, Glenn Hills, Hephzibah, Josey, 7 p.m.; Academy of Richmond County, 7:30 p.m.