The Need for a Location Change for Graduation


Courtesy of Lifetouch

Graduation in the stadium would allow for more attendees to watch and to be more spread out.

Graduation is a day that almost all of the 356 members of the class of 2023 have been looking forward to for four years. Graduation has been held in two locations throughout Dominion’s years: the stadium field and the main gym. Due to the Covid pandemic, however, the past two graduations have been held on the stadium field. After two years of outdoor graduations at Dominion, it was announced early this school year that we would be back inside in the gym.

At the senior meeting last week, Dr. Brewer announced that there were discussions between administration and the community regarding the fact that many individuals want the graduation ceremony to be held outside, just like the past two years. In all senior classes since the meetings, students have rampantly been voicing their opinions— should graduation be inside or outside?

There are a few things that absolutely cannot be changed, however. Administration cannot move the time of graduation, the day of graduation, nor the fact that it has to be held on the Dominion campus. The only thing that can be altered in the location on campus, and those two spots, the stadium field and the gym, both hold diverse benefits as well as drawbacks. 

The stadium would allow students to invite not only their five attendees to sit on the field, but an unlimited amount to sit on the bleachers, where they can still have a clear view of the stage and feel included. Though students are permitted to invite additional members if it were held inside, the overflow is placed in the auditorium, solely watching a livestream of the graduation, which is much more disconnected. 

If graduation were to be inside, it would bring very large inconveniences to not only students, but to our family and friends. Though it won’t be as hot as it is outside, it would still be very humid and muggy in the gym, no matter how early the AC is turned on. If you account for the potential 2,136 attendees and faculty members, the gym will be crammed, leaving parents squished on the hard, uncomfortable bleachers. Furthermore, the max capacity of the main gym is only 2,104, so based on the estimated number of attendees, there would not be enough room.  Any time the gym has hundreds of people in it, such as pep rallies and athletic games, it is practically miserable with the immense body heat, body odor, and the lack of space. 

With an approved capacity of 2,104, there is a limited number of seats for students to invite their family and friends. (Caelan Jones)

A large reason for the argument against being outdoors is due to the weather. Considering the fact that the graduation will take place mid-June in sunny Virginia, there is concern for high heat, bugs, or storms, according to Dr. Brewer. However, there are different avenues that can be taken to ensure an enjoyable experience for students and their families. 

I attended the 2022 graduation, and it was immensely hot. Once names began to be called to walk across the stage, I was able to go over the concessions stand and grab as many water bottles as I could hold to give to my family. Just as we got these refreshments, the graduation was much better and I could actually enjoy watching my siblings and their friends close off a major chapter of their life. My point is, once me and my group were given materials that gave us comfort, we were able to enjoy the graduation. Why can’t Dominion help in giving these materials for attendees?

In order to prepare for the heat, administration should set up water coolers nearby each of the rows for attendees to grab at their leisure. Say Dominion were to provide water bottles, it would cost about $879.98 to get two pallets of water from Costco. If this was purchased, there would be 3,840 water bottles available.

If LCPS and the Dominion administration didn’t have a way to pay for the water, they would only have to add three dollars to our more than $200 senior dues, which would give administrators an extra $1,068, allowing them to purchase the two pallets, leaving $188.02 to purchase more packs of water. With the remaining money, about 1,120 more water bottles could be purchased. 

Thus being said, everyone in attendance would be able to have two water bottles, with even some extras left. Dr. Brewer did say that two water bottles were given to all graduates at the 2021 graduation, and hundreds were left after the graduation concluded. Though they were given to the students, they were left in the 90+ degree heat at 2 o’clock on a June day, so they were very warm. Who wants to drink warm water when you are already hot? My proposal is that the water bottles are to be in a bunch of iced coolers nearby the graduates and the families, so that they are able to be taken as needed and will stay refreshing. 

If administrators didn’t want to take this route and responsibility, why don’t we return to our roots of crowdsourcing. Many of our parents have planned events and donated items for our class since kindergarten, how could they not do it one last time? I doubt it would take a very long time to get enough water for graduation through student donations, parent donations, and even donations from local businesses. 

Even if those suggestions don’t work, administration could take a few minutes of their time in the days leading up to graduation to send information to prepare students and their families. They could send emails and memos warning attendees to pack extra water, cooling towels, to wear cool clothing, wear hats, or to pack sunscreen.

Now there is a way to please everyone, and here is a great idea that Ms. Tran, one of the Titan Time teachers, voiced. The graduation ceremony should be held outside on the field, but there could be a live stream in the auditorium, just like it would be if it were inside. Anyone who wishes to be inside in the AC, such as the elderly, may sit inside and still watch their loved ones walk across the stage. 

Knowing the varying opinion as to the location where the class of 2023 will walk across the stage, Dr. Brewer is opening the discussion to members of the community, hearing them, and letting them take a vote on the matter. “I brought it up [at the meeting] to be a leader who listens to feedback from people. And, when I brought it up, apparently I created a lot of conversation about this. So I’m glad I know about it, and we’re going to do the will of the people.”