Over the course of a 12-hour period Saturday, an estimated 1,855 seniors from Springfield Public Schools’ Class of 2023 will graduate in back-to-back commencement ceremonies.
The culminating celebrations for Central, Glendale, Hillcrest, Kickapoo, and Parkview will occur at the Great Southern Bank Arena but, unlike previous years, they are all scheduled on a single weekend day. In the past, they were spread over two weekend evenings.
“We are really excited to have it on a Saturday because we really feel like we can ensure more family members and friends will have the opportunity to attend and celebrate our students. That is a real positive,” said Sheila Wynn, the executive director of high school.
Here are details to make it easier for graduates’ family and friends to navigate the ceremonies:
What is the schedule for graduation?
The five graduations scheduled for Saturday, May 20 at Great Southern Bank Area, located on the Missouri State University campus at 685 S. John Q. Hammons Parkway, will start at these times:
- Central − 9 a.m.
- Glendale − 11:30 a.m.
- Hillcrest − 2 p.m.
- Parkview − 4:30 p.m.
- Kickapoo − 7 p.m.
When will the doors open?
Family and friends must enter the main entrance to the arena, on the southeast side side of the building. Doors will open approximately 45 minutes before the ceremony starts.
Doors will close after each ceremony begins and remain closed until the ceremony has ended and staff will clear the arena after each ceremony.
Graduates must enter the main entrance to Hammons Student Center on the east side of the building. When the ceremony is over, they will exit on the northwest part of the arena, where they can be reunited with their family and friends.
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Where can family and friends sit?
No tickets are needed. The arena has ample seating so there is no limit on how many people a graduate can invite to the ceremony.
Seating on the arena floor is reserved for graduating seniors.
Sections E, F, G, H, I, and J will be blocked off from audience seating — as they are behind the stage — and the box seats will not be available to the general public.
There is no reserved seating and guests cannot tape off or mark seats as reserved.
Section D is reserved for the hearing impaired. Handicap seating is located on the north and south sides of the arena and can be accessed by the north or south elevators on each side of the building. A family member will be allowed to remain with the individual who requires assistance.
Suggestions for where to park
Parking is not expected to be a problem. The spring semester at Missouri State will be over, meaning traffic on the campus will be light.
Those attending the ceremonies are encouraged to use parking lots north of Grand Street and south of Monroe Avenue.
There will also be parking north of Hammons Student Center in the north parking garage off of Cherry Street to the northwest corner of the building off of Holland Avenue and Harrison Street.
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No purses, bags are allowed in arena
With the exception of medical bags, no bags or purses will be allowed inside the arena during the ceremony.
“That is just an additional security measure,” said Stephen Hall, chief communications officer.
“We will have our school police force there as well as Springfield Police Department — which is always the case, they collaborate on graduation — and we’ll have officers stationed outside the door so people don’t get all the way into the building and they’re surprised they cannot bring the bags inside.”
No flowers, balloons or gifts can be carried into the building. Signs are not allowed.
Any person who brings noisemakers or other items that disrupt the ceremony including air horns or balls will be escorted out.
Graduating seniors cannot bring cellphones
The graduates must carry their caps and gowns into Hammons Student Center, where they report, and put them on there. They cannot be worn into the building.
They are not allowed to carry anything including purses and cell phones into the ceremony. They will be searched by school police officers and anything they have will be returned after the ceremony.
Hall said the district does not want anything to take away from spotlighting the graduates. “We really do want it to be a moment where every student can shine and feel celebrated.”
He added: “We do receive feedback from families that the ceremonies are conducted in a very professional manner. They honor the somber importance of the moment,” Hall said. “When you have 500 graduates and you have 500 phones that may or may not be silenced, that could potentially interrupt an individual student’s moment. We want to create an environment where families feel very proud.”
Ceremonies can be watched from home
The district will livestream each graduation ceremony. The links are available online at sps.org.
A DVD of the ceremony as well as a digital download of the ceremony will be available for purchase. Details about how to order will be provided at each ceremony.