Education

Less graduation gridlock in downtown. Some Wake ceremonies move to Reynolds Coliseum.

Wake County’s high school graduation season will be shorter in 2020 and produce less traffic congestion in downtown Raleigh.

The Wake County school system is shifting some of the Class of 2020 graduation ceremonies from the Raleigh Convention Center to Reynolds Coliseum on N.C. State University’s campus. The combination of using both sites means the bulk of graduations will be held over four days in June, down from six days this year.

The change could bring welcome relief to people who work and live in downtown Raleigh. The traffic from thousands of graduates and their guests driving through the area has caused gridlock.

Originally, Wake’s plan for next year was to again hold most of the graduations at the downtown Convention Center. But school officials said they had to change plans when they couldn’t get all the times they wanted at the Convention Center.

“With the renovation of Reynolds Coliseum, which is now air conditioned, combined with the fact that this year we were unable to secure all the dates and times we needed at the Raleigh Convention Center, we were fortunately able to craft a schedule that will accommodate all June graduations during a shorter window of time than in the past,” Michael Yarbrough, a Wake school spokesman, said in a statement.

Wake last held graduations at Reynolds Coliseum from 2006 to 2008 after the prior Raleigh Convention Center was torn down and before the new one opened. Reynolds didn’t have air conditioning then, prompting students and guests to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated during the hot graduation ceremonies.

Reynolds was air conditioned as part of a $35 million renovation completed in 2016.

Some Wake high schools will hold ceremonies in late May, but most will be held in June.

The June ceremonies will take place every two hours, alternating between the different sites. Only three weekdays and a Saturday will be needed next June for the ceremonies. Wake had used five weekdays and a Saturday this year.

Here’s Wake’s 2020 high school graduation schedule:

Wednesday, May 20

Southeast Raleigh High School, Reynolds Coliseum, 4 p.m.

Thursday, May 21

Knightdale High School, Reynolds Coliseum, 4 p.m.

Wake Early College of Health and Sciences, Meymandi Hall, 7 p.m.

Friday, May 22

Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy and Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Meymandi Hall, 8 a.m.

Wake STEM Early College, NC State’s Witherspoon Center, 10 a.m.

Vernon Malone College and Career Academy, Meymandi Hall, noon.

North Wake College and Career Academy, Meymandi Hall, 3 p.m.

Wednesday, June 10

Millbrook High School, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 a.m.

Wakefield High School, Reynolds Coliseum, 10 a.m.

Garner High School, Raleigh Convention Center, noon.

East Wake High School, Reynolds Coliseum, 2 p.m.

Green Hope High School, Raleigh Convention Center, 4 p.m.

Athens Drive High School, Reynolds Coliseum, 6 p.m.

Cary High School, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 p.m.

Thursday, June 11

Enloe High School, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 a.m.

Holly Springs High School, Reynolds Coliseum, 10 a.m.

Rolesville High School, Raleigh Convention Center, noon.

Heritage High School, Reynolds Coliseum, 2 p.m.

Wake Forest High School, Raleigh Convention Center, 4 p.m.

Sanderson High School, Reynolds Coliseum, 6 p.m.

Leesville Road High School, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 p.m.

Friday, June 12

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

Longview School, Meymandi Hall, 10 a.m.

Middle Creek High School, Raleigh Convention Center, noon.

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

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

Phillips High School, Meymandi Hall, 6 p.m.

Fuquay-Varina High School, Raleigh Convention Center, 8 p.m.

Saturday, June 13

SCORE Academy, Meymandi Hall, 8 a.m.

Apex Friendship High School, Raleigh Convention Center, 10 a.m.

Crossroads FLEX High School, Meymandi Hall, noon.

Go to https://www.wcpss.net/graduation for more information.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.
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