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School board to determine Waynesboro High graduation site

January 15, 2004|by RICHARD BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Members of the Waynesboro Area Senior High School class of 2004 should know next week the site of their graduation ceremony.

Last year's graduation was held off school grounds at the 4,000-seat Knott Arena at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md.

A majority of the senior class members voted to hold their commencement there.

The reason - the lack of air conditioning in their own high school gym.

The event in Emmitsburg was not flawless, however, especially after a massive traffic jam delayed many grads, relatives and friends from getting to the ceremony on time.


The leisurely 20-mile drive from Waynesboro to Emmitsburg took nearly an hour because of heavy traffic.

College officials estimated the Waynesboro crowd at more than 3,300.

Not only did patrons have to compete against each other to enter the college grounds, they also had to weave between oncoming traffic heading north on U.S.15.

"And they didn't follow our instructions on parking," George Gelles, director of conferences and special programs at the college, said Wednesday.

Gelles said he has already spoken to high school officials about making changes should Waynesboro's grads return.

The U.S. 15 cross-over will be eliminated by having drivers make a legal U-turn farther south then head north to enter the campus by a simple right turn, Gelles said.

Larry Glenn, Waynesboro School Board president, said Wednesday the board will determine the graduation site when it meets Tuesday.

He said senior students will not have a say this year.

In the past, high school administrators set up facilities for graduation outside in the football stadium and, as a precaution against bad weather, inside in the gym.

Glenn said in the 10 years leading to and including 2002, weather permitted graduations to be held outside only twice.

In 2002, rain again forced it inside. More than 1,300 people crowded into the gym. It was particularly hot and more than 100 people either fainted or had to be taken outside.

The school board is asking the local fire marshal to determine the seating capacity of the high school gym, a factor that also could lead to the board's decision to move the graduation permanently to another site.

Glenn said the board considered other sites, including Penn State's Mont Alto campus and Shippensburg University, but is leaning toward Mount St. Mary's.

"It seems to be the only reasonable place," he said. "We have to decide what's in the best interest of safety and the students."

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