A graduation scene from 2018 at FCHS, in non-Covid-19 times. (Photo courtesy of Fluvanna Photos)
A graduation scene from 2018 at FCHS, in non-Covid-19 times.

Photo courtesy of Fluvanna Photos

Graduation Consternation

February 6, 2020

Some things in life seem fixed, like Tax Day, Christmas, and Halloween. FCHS Graduation Day seemed one of those standard dates as well, always falling on the Saturday before Memorial Day. Until now.

For perhaps the first time in FCHS history, FCHS’ graduation will be held on a Friday– specifically, Friday, May 22 at 7:00 pm. The result of this change has not been without controversy. So how did this change come about? 

It came about last fall when FCHS senior Kyia Scott decided it was time for a change, so she shared a petition during lunches asking students if they would support changing to a Friday night graduation. Scott said she had over 200 students sign the petition over a two-day period. She then shared the results with Principal Margo Bruce and Superintendent Chuck Winkler. After hearing both positive and negative responses to changing the date and time of graduation, Bruce decided to go with Scott’s idea. Winkler told Bruce, “It’s your school. It’s your decision.”

According to Scott, the entire process took several months to plan. “I think it will benefit us because it is something different,” she said. She noted that there are definitely some benefits to making the switch to an evening graduation. One of the biggest concerns with having a morning graduation has always been the heat. With temperatures getting as high as the 90’s, and attendees sitting in the full sun for hours, spectators and students have often gotten overheated and sunburned. There have even been cases of adults passing out due to the heat.

One group that may be particularly happy with the change is the FCHS band, which performs in uniform at the event.  “The [band] uniforms get very hot, especially in the morning sun,” said senior Alexandra Lee. In addition, Fork Union Military Academy, another high school down the road from Fluvanna, has always had their graduation on Saturday morning as well. The combination has often caused significant traffic on the roads, making it harder for parents to be at graduation on time. 

While there have been some positive responses to the change, there have been some negative responses as well. Some students say that 7:00 pm is too late to start the ceremony because they don’t want to graduate under the football lights and because their family members will have to be transported back to Pleasant Grove in the dark. Another concern about the time is that students will be on the roads late due to after-graduation parties. 

Another concern is that Fluvanna County does not have the infrastructure to hold many guests with the nearest hotel located in Zions Crossroads. “Most of my family members live in North Carolina and they will have no place to stay if they decide to come up on a Friday afternoon,” said one student who wished to remain anonymous due to the controversial nature of the topic. Indeed after the change was announced, there were some heated discussions not only among students but also in the community.

Others are less concerned with the change. “It doesn’t matter to me, but if I had to choose, I’d say I would prefer a morning graduation because then you have the rest of the day to have your graduation party instead of having it the next day,” said senior Toby Sherman. 

Bruce knows she cannot please everyone, but after having the support from the school board office, the local sheriff and fire departments, and from some of the faculty at FCHS, she decided this was the best fit for everyone. 

Graduation activities will begin with the senior awards ceremony which will be held on Wednesday at 6:00 pm. Graduation practice will be held on Thursday at 9:00 am. 

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About the Contributor
Photo of Evynne Stafford
Evynne Stafford, FCHS Journalist

Evynne is a senior in her first year of journalism. She plays volleyball and soccer.

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