Thanks to a mysterious booking change at the Onondaga County War Memorial, Cicero-North Syracuse High School has had to change the date and location of its 2014 graduation ceremony.
The ceremony, originally scheduled for the evening of Friday, June 27, at the War Memorial, will now take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 28 at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College.
The Onondaga County War Memorial notified the district that they were canceling all events during the weekend of June 27.
C-NS got the news shortly before Christmas break, according to C-NS Executive Principal Melissa Julian.
“They called us, and the way they explained it to us was that they had a group coming in or an event taking place over multiple days, so anyone scheduled that weekend — Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday — had to move,” Julian said.
Julian said she didn’t know the nature of the group or event that preempted their booking, and the staff at the Onondaga County War Memorial isn’t talking. Representatives from the OnCenter’s booking office, which handles the scheduling for the War Memorial, did not return calls requesting comment, but other employees in the building they were not aware of any events scheduled for the last weekend in June. The OnCenter’s online calendar doesn’t list any events later than June 22.
North Syracuse wasn’t the only school left in limbo. All of the Syracuse city high schools will be forced to move their ceremonies, which are currently scheduled throughout the weekend. Liverpool also holds its ceremony at the War Memorial; however, their event is already set to be held the previous Saturday, June 21.
The move certainly created a headache for C-NS, which had to scramble to find a new location for graduation ceremonies for its approximately 700 students. The staff at the OnCenter offered a couple of solutions, Julian said, but they weren’t workable for the school.
“They did give us a couple of options,” she said. “They said we could move our graduation to the week before, but we’re still giving assessments then. They said we could do it that Wednesday night [June 26], but, again, we’re still giving assessments, and also, a Wednesday night is not ideal.”
So the staff had to look at moving to a different locale, which, given the size of the graduating class — the largest outside of the city schools — was no easy task.
“For us, our size eliminates a lot of places,” Julian said. “We considered the [Carrier] Dome, but that never would have flown. So we had to look at where we could go that would accommodate us.”
Fortunately, it only took one phone call.
“The first place we called was SRC Arena,” Julian said. “They got right back to us and told us they had Saturday open all day.”
That does mean the date of the ceremony will change; C-NS typically holds its commencement ceremonies on Friday night. But rather than continue to search out a place that could accommodate both the time and the crowd, the school opted to take the date available.
Julian said she wasn’t sure what would happen in the future. She said it was possible C-NS would return to the War Memorial for the 2015 graduation ceremony, though the school might stay at SRC.
“We don’t want to close any doors,” Julian said. “We’re keeping our judgment open until we go through the first year. We’ll see how it goes.”
Julian acknowledged that SRC offers some advantages over the War Memorial, such as ample free parking, while the distance from the high school presents something of a disadvantage.
“Anything is within the realm of possibility,” she said.
Other changes may be in store for students and their families, as well. Julian said that in the past, students received a block of eight tickets for graduation to hand out to family and friends, with the ability to ask for more. However, that number may change this year.
“We’re not really sure at this point,” Julian said. “We don’t know how they can lay it out for us in terms of the floor. We know it will be less than 1,000 people, but how much less, we don’t know.”
Julian said more information will be forthcoming as graduation approaches. To stay updated, visit nscsd.org.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.