The pomp of high school graduation will happen under much better circumstances this year, especially for graduating seniors in Spokane Public Schools.
With the pandemic subsiding, they can look forward to a ceremony with face coverings optional.
Even better, most will graduate on the weekend of June 11-12 in a new venue, the Podium.
According to Scott Kerwien, the district’ executive director of student success, the new facility will feel “more intimate” than the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
“On top of that, it’s new, and it’s exciting that as Spokanites they can see that our town is growing,” Kerwien said. “It’s a chance to show off our city.”
Located just north of Riverfront Park, the new building mostly hosts regional and national athletic events. However, it’s also spacious enough to accommodate almost as many people as the Arena.
Kerwien expects that come graduation weekend, it will have seats for about 8,000 people – enough that the district won’t need to distribute tickets in advance.
Of the 8,000 seats, about 7,400 will be available for graduates’ friends and family members. To aid viewing, the ceremonies also will include a Jumbotron above the stage.
Seating will be first-come, first-served, but the event will be livestreamed for those who can’t attend.
The Arena hosted graduation ceremonies until 2020, when the pandemic forced a dramatic change.
That year, the district hosted drive-by ceremonies outside each school. Last year, graduation took place in ideal weather at the Pavilion in Riverfront Park.
Both drew largely favorable comments from graduates and their families.
Kerwien said the district considered a return to the Pavilion, with the Podium available as a backup in case of poor weather. However, the Spokane Pride Parade is scheduled for June 11, and the noise might have distracted from graduation.
Kerwien said the Pavilion also will be a less expensive alternative to the Arena, although he didn’t have exact numbers.
North Central will be the first school to send off its graduates at the Podium, on June 11 at 1:30 p.m. Shadle Park will follow at 4:30 p.m. and On Track Academy at 7:30 p.m.
Three schools will hold ceremonies at the Podium on June 12: Rogers at noon, Lewis & Clark at 3:30 p.m. and Ferris at 7 p.m.
Pratt Academy will hold graduation at 4 p.m. on June 6 at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox; Bryant/TEC on June 9 at 6 p.m. at Bryant; and The Community School at noon on June 11 at the Fox.
Most other local districts have returned to pre-pandemic commencement ceremonies, with most occurring on the weekend of June 10-12.
Central Valley School District – Central Valley and University high schools will hold graduation on June 11 at Gonzaga University’s McCarthey Athletic Center. Central Valley’s ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. and U-High’s at 1 p.m
Cheney – June 10 at 6 p.m. at the Northern Quest outdoor events center
Deer Park – June 11 at 1 p.m. in the high school gym
East Valley – June 13 at 7 p.m. at the First Interstate Center for the Arts
Freeman – June 11 State at 1 p.m. in the high school gym
Lakeside – June 10 at 7 p.m. at the First Interstate Center for the Arts
Liberty – June 4 at 1 p.m. at in the high school gym
Medical Lake – June 11 at 11 a.m. at the Northern Quest outdoors events center
Riverside – June 10 at 6 p.m. on the high school football field
West Valley – June 12 at 12:30 p.m. at the First Interstate Center for the Arts
Gonzaga Prep – June 5 at 1 p.m. at Bullpup Stadium
Northwest Christian - June 4 at 1 p.m. at Turning Point Open Bible Church
Saint George’s – May 22 at 2 p.m. at the school
The Oaks Classical Christian Academy – June 11 at 1 p.m. in the gym
Upper Columbia Academy – June 4 at 10 a.m. in the gymnasium
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