Folks attending this year’s graduation ceremony at Waconia High School are going to need something they’ve never needed before — a ticket to get in through the door.
Due to space limitations and the potential safety issues that can result, district officials decided earlier this year that this was the year that the ceremony would not be open to the public. Mark Fredericksen, principal of Waconia High School, said it was a tough decision but ultimately, the right one.
“We’re just packed to the rafters. We’re over capacity and that can lead to safety issues,” said Fredericksen, who noted that a full house in the school’s gymnasium is around 1,800 people. “We’ve probably been pushing it the last couple of years. We’ve just reached the point where we knew we had to get a handle on the crowd.”
Fredericksen said he feels a sense of loss about closing the event to the public.
“I’ve always loved how graduation is a community event,” he said, noting that the ceremony has traditionally attracted a lot of walk up traffic from community members and underclassmen.
“I guess it’s a good problem when there are a lot of people there who want to see it and be a part of it.”
The graduation ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 2. The doors will open at 11:45 a.m. The district will issue six tickets to each graduate for family members to attend the ceremony. Students with split households will receive four tickets for each home. The tickets have already been sent in the mail.
Fredericksen noted that this year’s senior class of 240 students is the largest class the high school has ever had but is also the smallest class currently at the high school (classes of 260 and 290 are on the horizon), meaning that the space crunch isn’t going to alleviate itself anytime soon.
The ceremony will also be simulcast on a large screen in the high school auditorium, which has about 400 seats.
Tickets are not required for the auditorium and seating will be on a first come first served basis. The district has provided this simulcast in the auditorium for several years.
In addition, one can view the ceremony via webcast at http://www.highschoolcube.com/event/2013-waconia-high-school-graduation-309519.
In terms of feedback about closing the event to the public, Fredericksen said parents have generally been understanding but some have contacted the school hoping to uncover some extra tickets.
“It has always been an important event,” he said. “We wish everyone could be a part of it. This still allows the people who should be there to get in.”
Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]