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Downtown Raleigh will teem with grads and families for 6 days. Here's how to get around.

Raleigh Convention Center hosts Wake County graduates including hundreds from Cary High School

Video: Cary High School commencement at the Raleigh Convention Center on Monday, June 12, 2017.
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Video: Cary High School commencement at the Raleigh Convention Center on Monday, June 12, 2017.

It's that time of year again, when people from all over Wake County come to downtown Raleigh to mark the end of high school for thousands of students.

Instead of squeezing into their gyms or auditoriums, or taking a chance with the weather outside, most of Wake County's public high schools hold their commencement ceremonies in the Raleigh Convention Center or in other venues downtown.

This year, 25 high schools will hold commencements over a six-day period, starting Friday, including two schools that are graduating seniors for the first time: Apex Friendship High and SCORE Academy. Altogether, nearly 11,000 students will get their diplomas.

One change this year: No graduations on Sunday morning. After a group of pastors complained that some families were forced to choose between attending their child's graduation and attending church, the Wake County Board of Education agreed not to schedule any commencements on Sunday until 2 p.m.

That means two graduations that might have taken place in the convention center early Sunday are now happening there late Friday.

Whenever they happen, each ceremony brings hundreds of graduates and their families and friends downtown, making parking spaces and tables at restaurants a little harder to come by.

There are other events taking place downtown at the same time as the graduations, which could add to traffic and parking challenges. They include Raleigh's International Food Festival in City Plaza, a block from the convention center, on Saturday from noon to 10 p.m., and a food truck rodeo on Fayetteville Street on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

For those attending graduations at the convention center, there will be a passenger drop-off zone along McDowell Street under the “Shimmer Wall.” Golf carts will be available at the drop-off area and nearby parking garages to transport anyone with difficulty walking.

The school district has created a website with information about graduations, including links to livestreams of each ceremony. It can be found here: www.wcpss.net/graduation. For information about parking, including locations of public lots and garages, go to www.godowntownraleigh.com/get-around/parking. And remember, on-street parking is generally free on nights and weekends.

Here’s the graduation schedule:

Friday, June 8

Broughton High School, Holliday Gymnasium, 2 p.m.

Middle Creek High, Raleigh Convention Center, 4 p.m.

Longview High, Enloe High School, 6 p.m.

Rolesville High, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 p.m.

Saturday, June 9

Knightdale High, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 a.m.

Holly Springs High, Raleigh Convention Center, 12 p.m.

SCORE Academy, Kenan Auditorium at Peace University, 2 p.m.

Garner High, Raleigh Convention Center, 4 p.m.

Crossroads FLEX, Kenan Auditorium at Peace University, 6 p.m.

Enloe High, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 p.m.

Sunday, June 10

Leesville Road High, Raleigh Convention Center, 2 p.m.

Wake Forest High, Raleigh Convention Center, 6 p.m.

Monday, June 11

Apex High, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 a.m.

Cary High, Raleigh Convention Center, 12 p.m.

Sanderson High, Raleigh Convention Center, 4 p.m.

Phillips High, auditorium at Enloe High School, 6 p.m.

Millbrook High, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, June 12

East Wake High, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 a.m.

Athens Drive High, Raleigh Convention Center, 12 p.m.

Panther Creek High, Raleigh Convention Center, 4 p.m.

Heritage High, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, June 13

Wakefield High, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 a.m.

Green Hope High, Raleigh Convention Center, 12 p.m.

Fuquay-Varina High, Raleigh Convention Center, 4 p.m.

Apex Friendship, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 p.m.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling
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