Seniors at seven Richmond County high schools will march on their home turf this spring, if the school board takes the advice of principals again.
Principals at schools with stadiums are unanimous in their desire to keep commencement ceremonies at home instead of at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center. Last spring's move to stadium graduations was an experiment that drew mixed reaction from students and their families.
School board trustees are expected to vote on dates and locations tonight so schools can begin ordering invitations.
Many trustees support outdoor graduations but want to spread them over three days with different times.
"If we do it like that again, it's got to be scheduled different. We have to make it possible for families to go to more than one graduation," board member Barbara Padgett said.
Board member Marion Barnes plans to take the advice of principals.
"They have to deal with it," he said.
After having a bad experience at Hephzibah's outdoor graduation, school board president Jeff Padgett pleaded with fellow trustees to return to downtown's civic center. He later said the issue should be studied and asked for input from the community.
Trustee Kenneth Echols said he heard limited grumbling about stadium graduations except for Hephzibah, where parking and the hot weather were common complaints.
First-year Hephzibah Principal Veta New told central office staff that she would prefer to hold graduation at the stadium "in the early morning." A 9 a.m. ceremony is also the preferred time at T.W. Josey High School, according to Principal Quentin Motley.
Mr. Echols said schools would resort to indoor gymnasiums or an alternative day in the case of bad weather. If graduation is moved to the gym, accommodations could be made for family members who don't have tickets.
"We talked at one time about putting TV monitors in other parts of the school so everybody could see the ceremony," Mr. Echols said.
Superintendent Charles Larke said it would cost $20,552 to use the civic center and the Bell Auditorium for three days, a $222 increase from two years ago.
Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
What: Richmond County Board of Education meeting
When: Committee meetings begin at 5:30 p.m. today, followed by the board meeting at 7 p.m.
Where: Central Office, 2083 Heckle St.