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High School graduation ceremonies return to North Charleston Coliseum

Published: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:35 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 7:16 AM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Several Tri-County high schools plan to hold their graduation ceremonies at the North Charleston Coliseum, beginning with the Berkeley County School District.

Seven Berkeley County High Schools will are holding ceremonies at the coliseum over the weekend.

With Gov. Henry McMaster’s announcement that South Carolina’s COVID-19 state of emergency was being lifted, coliseum General Manager Frank Lapsley says a lot of the safety protocols will be based on each visiting parties’ personal decision.

The Berkeley County School District says they are not capping the number of guests each graduate can bring to the coliseum for graduation this year.

Only graduates will be allowed on the floor, but no special spacing is planned for chairs.

Goose Creek Senior Orrin Valdez, who is number four in his class, says after watching peers have much different experiences last year, he and his classmates are excited to be having this graduation.

“It’s really cool and I’m really glad that not only graduation, but also prom was all pretty normalized,” Valdez says. “It shows the progress that we’ve made through this pandemic and how we’ve all been able to grow through it.”

Goose Creek High School students will be the first to graduate on Friday. That ceremony starts at 11:30 a.m.

The full graduation schedule is:

  • Goose Creek high School: Friday at 11:30 a.m.
  • Hanahan High School: Friday at 3:30 p.m.
  • Cane Bay High School: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
  • Philip Simmons High School: Saturday at 9 a.m.
  • Berkeley High School: Saturday at noon
  • Timberland High School: Saturday at 4 p.m.
  • Stratford High School: Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“I’m very excited to walk the stage tomorrow. It’s kind of bitter-sweet because I’m going to miss a lot of the connections I’ve made and the friends I’ve grown with these past four years,” Valdez says. “But, it’s overall exciting. It’s like walking through a new door to my life.”

But some Berkeley County schools chose to hold ceremonies at their school campus instead.

There will be four hours between each ceremony on Friday and Saturday, to allow cars to come and go. Lapsley says this is the first year they’ll be using the new parking garage for graduation parking.

“It’s a feel-good event, it’s a great event, it’s a community event,” Lapsley said. “If there’s any way to get back to work, this is obviously one of the ways that makes everybody feel good about what we’re doing.”

Lapsley says masks are no longer required for guests, but coliseum staff will still be wearing masks and have health screenings before coming in.

He says the North Charleston Coliseum staff may reassess those rules at the end of June.

Dorchester County School District Two

Dorchester County Two schools plan to hold graduation ceremonies for their three high schools at the North Charleston Coliseum one week later.

District officials posted the following schedule for its June 18 ceremonies:

  • Ashley Ridge High School: 9:30 a.m.
  • Summerville High School: 1 p.m.
  • Fort Dorchester High School: 5:30 p.m.

Charleston County School District

The Charleston Charter School for Math and Science held its graduation on last Saturday.

Septima P. Clark Academy will hold its graduation Saturday at 9 a.m. at Hibbie Ayoub Stadium on Garrett’s campus.

The remaining Charleston County School District is holding ceremonies next week at different schools and district stadiums beginning on June 17.

  • Academic Magnet High School – June 17 at 9 a.m. at District 4 Regional Stadium (in North Charleston)
  • Baptist Hill Middle High School – June 18 at 9 a.m. at Brockington Herne Stadium (Baptist Hill’s campus)
  • Burke High School – June 17 at 6 p.m. at Johnson Hagood Stadium (The Citadel)
  • Charleston County School of the Arts – June 17 at 7 p.m. at District 4 Regional Stadium (in North Charleston)
  • Early College High School – June 18 at 9 a.m. at District 4 Regional Stadium (in North Charleston)
  • Greg Mathis Charter High School – June 17 at 6 p.m. at Hibbie Ayoub Stadium (Garrett’s campus)
  • James Island Charter High School – June 18 at 9 a.m. at Floyd E. Hiott, Jr. Memorial Stadium (James Island’s campus)
  • Military Magnet Academy – June 19 at 6:30 p.m. at District 4 Regional Stadium (in North Charleston)
  • North Charleston High School – June 19 at 11 a.m. at District 4 Regional Stadium (in North Charleston)
  • R.B. Stall High School – June 18 at 6 p.m. at District 4 Regional Stadium (in North Charleston)
  • St. John’s High School – June 19 at 7 p.m. at Robert Biggerstaff Field (St. John’s campus)
  • Wando High School (three ceremonies, all at District 2 Regional Stadium on Wando’s campus) –
    • June 18 at 6 p.m.
    • June 19 at 9 a.m.
    • June 19 at 6 p.m.
  • West Ashley High School – June 19 at 9 a.m. at Wildcat Stadium (West Ashley’s campus)

Every CCSD school will hold an outdoor, in-person ceremony following COVID-19 protocols, district officials have said.

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