New lo­ca­tion for Ar­royo Grande High School’ s grad­u­a­tion

The Tribune (SLO) - - Neighbors - By Kaytlyn Leslie [email protected] THETRI­BUNE­NEWS.COM KaytlynLeslie:805-781-7928,@Kaytyleslie

For the first time in re­cent his­tory, Ar­royo Grande High School’s grad­u­at­ing class likely won’t walk into the school’s foot­ball sta­dium dur­ing grad­u­a­tion.

In­stead, the Class of 2019 will pa­rade onto a dif­fer­ent sports field on cam­pus, with fam­ily and friends sit­ting on portable bleach­ers and a tem­po­rary sound sys­tem broad­cast­ing the cer­e­mony.

Jim Em­pey, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent of busi­ness for Lu­cia Mar Uni­fied School District, told The Tribune on Mon­day that the high school’s on­go­ing sta­dium ren­o­va­tion project, which was orig­i­nally ex­pected to be done in time for grad­u­a­tion, is fac­ing some de­lays. Those have forced the school to make changes to its com­mence­ment cer­e­mony.

“Our pri­or­ity is to have grad­u­a­tion be a great event for our stu­dents and fam­i­lies,” Em­pey wrote in an email to The Tribune.

It is un­clear when Ar­royo Grande’s grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony was last not held on the foot­ball field.

Ac­cord­ing to district spokes­woman Amy Ja­cobs, grad­u­a­tion was held in the quad at the school up un­til the late 1970s. Some­time af­ter that, the cer­e­mony tran­si­tioned to the sta­dium.

Work is cur­rently un­der­way at Ar­royo Grande and Nipomo high schools to

up­grade their sports com­plexes, bring­ing in new, safer bleach­ers, all-weather tracks, con­ces­sion and re­strooms build­ings and all-weather sur­fac­ing at both ends of the field.

The projects, es­ti­mated to cost more than $1 mil­lion each, are be­ing paid for us­ing Lu­cia Mar’s Mea­sure I bonds.

The projects were orig­i­nally ex­pected to be com­pleted in time for grad­u­a­tion, but Em­pey said there “have been de­lays out of our con­trol” for both projects. Specif­i­cally, he said, bleacher con­struc­tion is be­ing paused around the state while of­fi­cials en­sure it is safe.

Rather than de­lay the con­struc­tion to af­ter the June grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies, which would im­pact their use in the fall, Lu­cia Mar chose to go for­ward with the projects and ad­just both schools’ grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies.

Ar­royo Grande High’s cer­e­mony is sched­uled for June 6, while Nipomo High’s cer­e­mony will be held June 7.

Nipomo High’s grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony is still ex­pected to be held at its foot­ball sta­dium, Em­pey said, with the district bring­ing in portable bleach­ers to hold stu­dents’ fam­ily and friends.

If that is im­pos­si­ble, the school will hold its cer­e­mony some­where else on cam­pus, he added.

Ar­royo Grande High’s cam­pus is older — it was built in 1953, while Nipomo High School opened in 2002 — and, as a re­sult, is more com­plex to ren­o­vate.

“We doubt that the grad­u­a­tion will be able to be held in the sta­dium,” Em­pey wrote.

In­stead, Ar­royo Grande High’s grad­u­a­tion will be held at the sports field directly to the south of the sta­dium, and will be out­fit­ted with tem­po­rary bleach­ers and a sound sys­tem. Park­ing will be avail­able for those with spe­cial needs and shut­tle ve­hi­cles will be pro­vided, he said.

Though the cer­e­monies will look a lit­tle dif­fer­ent this year, Em­pey promised each will still be “a great oc­ca­sion.”

“The Lu­cia Mar com­mu­nity is sup­port­ive, proud and re­silient,” Em­pey said. “Our grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies at NHS and AGHS will be dif­fer­ent this year, but as al­ways a great oc­ca­sion.”

KAYTLYNLESLIE [email protected]­bune­

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