Lebanon grads to receive vouchers in case it rains

Xavier Smith • May 25, 2017 at 3:48 PM

Plans are in place in the event of inclement weather Saturday for Lebanon High School’s graduation, which is scheduled to be at Danny Watkins Stadium.

Plans are to hold the graduation ceremony, which starts at 10 a.m., at the school’s football stadium, continuing a longtime tradition. The graduating class includes just more than 370 students.

Jennifer Johnson, Wilson County Schools spokesperson, said in case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to the school’s gymnasium, and each prospective graduate will receive five vouchers for guests.

In previous years, the school’s auditorium was also used for overflow.

National Weather Service forecasters in Old Hickory call for a 30 percent chance of rain Saturday, with some severe thunderstorms for the Middle Tennessee area Saturday night.

Criticism of the Lebanon High School tradition to hold graduation on campus has grown since the new high school opened due to unpredictable weather and limited space inside the school for a graduation ceremony. 

Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright said the power to choose a graduation venue rested with each individual school. 

The ceremony was briefly scheduled at the Wilson County Expo Center. However, questions were raised from the building’s inception about the ability to hold a high school graduation at the facility.

Charity Toombs, Wilson County Expo Center marketing director, said the facility has the ability to fit 6,300 people in one of the center’s formations. Wilson County school board chair Larry Tomlinson voiced his opinion about the center holding a graduation there in 2014.

“This will accommodate proms and everything else, but you’re talking about a graduation,” Tomlinson said. “Mt. Juliet filled up Municipal Auditorium. You’re talking 10,000-12,000 people. This building won’t seat that.”

Wilson Central principal Travis Mayfield discussed its graduation procedure last year. The school will hold its ceremonies Saturday at 3 p.m. at Middle Tennessee State University’s Murphy Center.

Mayfield said MTSU’s Murphy Center is given first priority to the 10 Rutherford County high schools, which limits available dates for surrounding counties. He said he spoke with seniors about their preference for graduation.

Principal Scott Walters said he also met with stakeholder groups, which included students, parents and faculty last year when the ceremony plans were moved back to Lebanon High School.

Walters took to Twitter on Wednesday to deliver a message to the seniors about graduation.

“Remember that May 27 is about you, [seniors]. Don’t let others’ opinions steal that away from you,” he said in a tweet.

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