Farrington seniors will graduate in gym despite new, multimillion-dollar stadium

Seniors at Farrington High School were disappointed to learn their graduation ceremony would be held in the school’s gymnasium, as it has been for the last several years.

It wasn’t a popular announcement, considering the school recently celebrated its new $20 million stadium and field, which can easily hold the senior class, family, and friends.

Some parents and students reached out to Action Line for help. They wanted to know if the school would change its mind.

Ebony Ayala’s daughter, Velvet, is one of those seniors.

“I’m just concerned that they got blessed with this brand-new field, and there’s no way for them to graduate on the field, and they’re shoving them into the gymnasium,” Ebony Ayala said. “I personally think it’s not going to work. It’s hot, for one. It’s very small, and you’re going to shove 500 plus seniors plus their parents? It’s going to be uncomfortable.”

Velvet Ayala says the decision isn’t sitting well with the senior class. There are more than 500 seniors, each of whom can only invite two guests.

“I am really sad and disappointed that I can’t graduate on the field. I have more than two people that helped me through my entire school career,” she said. “High school is hard. To have two people there, it’s like no way. You can’t make it just two people backing you up.”

The Department of Education says other guests will be able to greet the graduates after the ceremony outside of the gym.

It’s the week of the spring break, and principal Al Carganilla wasn’t on campus Wednesday. Instead, he sent in a lengthy explanation via email.

Carganilla says while Farrington is considering graduation ceremonies on the new field, it’s just not an option this year.

He says Farrington will be visiting other high schools who hold their graduations in their stadiums to see how it works:

Due to the recent grand opening of the Edward Skippa’ Diaz Stadium at Kusunoki Field, excitement and pride has grown on the Farrington High School (FHS) campus and hopes of possibly having this year’s graduation in the stadium have increased. Although having graduation in the stadium is a future option, holding the formal event in the stadium is not an option for this year’s Senior Class. The graduation ceremony will be held in the Kitamura Gymnasium on Saturday, May 20, 2017, as previously held in the past several years.

Protecting the new stadium turf and track is something that we need to consider closely. During our grand opening celebration in February, we protected the turf and track by laying down protective matting everywhere our 200 guests walked and sat, along with the field area where the stage was set up. That was only a fraction of what would be needed to protect the field for over 500 graduating seniors.

Careful planning goes into putting on a first class formal event like graduation. FHS Administration is determining the logistics needed for holding the graduation in our stadium. School staff will be visiting other high schools who hold their graduations in their school stadiums to observe how graduates move in and out during the ceremony and how the thousands of attendees would flow in and out of the stands. There are other items we wanted to observe, such as whether schools allow signs, balloons, and other props that might obstruct viewing in the stands. Also, we want to find out whether or not other schools use tents as we did during our grand opening. According to some staff and students, they couldn’t see most of our 200 guests as the tent on the field obstructed views.

There are budget concerns as well, as the current $40 Senior Fees would not be enough to put on a wonderful graduation ceremony. If we decide in the future to have the graduation in the stadium, we would need to increase the Senior Fees for the graduating class as production costs in the stadium would be much higher than in the gym. It was decided early on that the Class of 2017 would have their graduation ceremony in the gym. Administration staff notified the Senior Class and Senior parents/guardians at the mandatory Senior Parent Nights held on October 19 and 26, 2016, that the graduation will be held in the gym. Seniors have also been notified numerous times through advisory assemblies of where the graduation will be held this year.

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