By Monica Land
VAIDEN – The Carroll County School Board has listened to the outcry of students and parents and agreed to move this Saturday’s graduation ceremony from the gym at J.Z. George High School to the Leflore County Civic Center in Greenwood to accommodate more people.
Beat Five School Board Member Rubye Miller said that change came after parents protested a ticket policy that limited how many people could attend the ceremony.
Miller said in the past, the crowd had been larger than the capacity of the school, and Billy Joe Ferguson, the Carroll County School Superintendent, suggested each student get 12 tickets to control the crowd.
“It was in March that Mr. Ferguson brought the proposal to the school board,” she said, “because last year the gym was so overcrowded. But even with the 12 tickets, the auditorium was still filled and that number far exceeded the fire code, which I believe was a capacity of 500, and we went over that.”
J.Z. George Principal Glen Stevens said many people have had to stand during the program and last year an air conditioning unit went out the afternoon of the ceremony, making conditions more difficult.
“We’re not trying to keep anyone from coming,” Stevens said. “Some students may not need all their tickets and could give them to others who need them.”
Miller said some students had more than 12 family members to attend and even though the tickets had been printed listing J.Z. George as the locale, parents still suggested the graduation be moved to a much larger facility nearby – the civic center – and the board finally agreed – in a 4-to-1 decision – to their recommendation.
“The parents felt they should not be limited to how many people they could invite,” Miller said. “So after the board agreed, they printed out a flyer to put over the J.Z. George gym location and some students did a completely different kind of invitation. They personalized it.”
School officials said in April, about 72 students had qualified for graduation. That number has dropped to about 55.
Miller, a former teacher, who is in her 13th year as a school board member, said she has received several graduation invitations from seniors who will march in tomorrow‘s ceremony.
“Many of these kids are the first ones to graduate in their family,” she said. “So this is really a big deal. And I think it was so admirable for the board to go along with the parents and even pay the expense of the building.”