Admission tickets required for DPS graduation ceremonies

Apr. 16, 2014 @ 06:24 PM

In a major shift, Durham Public Schools will require admission tickets to attend graduations at Duke and N.C. Central universities in June.
Officials said the universities made the request in an effort to beef up security and better control graduation ceremonies in the wake of increasing acts of random violence, such as the bombing attack that took place during the Boston Marathon a year ago.
“That was not spurred by anything that happened at one of our events,” said Jim Key, the school district’s area superintendent for high schools. “It was spurred by things happening around the country.”
Key said security teams will also check bags carried into Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke and McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium on the NCCU campus where the school district’s graduations are held.
“We live in a world today where there are security concerns where ever large groups of people gather,” Key said.
Graduations for the school district’s large traditional high schools are held in Cameron while those for smaller specialty high schools are held in McDougald-McLendon.
Each graduation at Duke typically draws about 5,000 people while the crowds at the specialty schools are usually smaller because the enrollments at those schools are smaller.
Key said each of the estimated 2,000 graduating seniors will get 10 tickets to distribute to family and friends.
But he said additional tickets will be made available to students who need them.
In some school districts in North Carolina and others throughout the country, seniors can only invite a few people to their graduation ceremonies because of the size of the venue in which they are held.
Key said that is not the case for DPS graduations.
“The intent for having tickets is not to limit the size of the audience,” Key said. “We’re going to accommodate all of our families.”
The initial 10 tickets and any additional tickets seniors might need will be distributed by the high schools.
“We’ve made it clear to the schools that if [seniors] need more, work with your graduation coordinator and principal to request more than 10,” Key said.
When word about the change was initially sent to students, Key said he received a few calls from parents who were worried that 10 tickets would not be enough to accommodate their family.
He said the calls have subsided now that it’s clear that seniors will be allowed as many tickets as they need to accommodate friends and families.
“We just want to make sure that the people attending graduations have a legitimate reason for being there,” Key said of the tickets. “We don’t think it’s going to create any kind of negative experience.”
School board Chairwoman Heidi Carter said she thinks the extra security measure is a good idea.
“I’m OK with it,” Carter said. “It just boils down to the climate in which we live and people just want to ensure public safety.”