It's graduation week in Madison County and school officials are urging families of seniors to make note of a few changes to commencement ceremonies in addition to planning graduation celebrations, picking up boxes of tissues and readying cap and gowns.
The biggest change to graduation ceremonies this year is the requirement of tickets for attendees.
According to Erin Stewart, community education director for Madison County Schools, seniors from both the county's public high schools will receive an allotment of tickets to disperse among family and friends.
Seniors from Madison Central High School will receive 12 tickets while Madison Southern High School seniors will have 18. Tickets will not be required for babies under two years of age who will sit in an adult's lap.
Tickets are required to enter Eastern Kentucky University's Alumni Coliseum at the time of graduation ceremonies.
School officials confirmed that tickets for the ceremonies will be checked at the doors and those attending graduation should enter through the main doors of Alumni Coliseum.
An ADA compliant entrance is located on the water tower side of the building.
Seating, as in the past, is first-come, first-serve, with the exception of "premium seating" tickets sold by MSHS Project Graduation Committee.
Stewart said concerns over safety prompted Eastern Kentucky University officials to require ticketing to graduations this year.
"EKU's fire marshal has expressed concern for the past few years about the number of people in the building during graduation ceremonies," Stewart explained. "He was especially concerned about the number of people at Madison Central's graduation."
Central's graduation will take place Friday, May 19, at 7 p.m. and doors will open to the public at 5:30 p.m.
Southern's graduation will take place Saturday, May 20, at noon and doors will be open to the public at 10:30 a.m.
Although fewer attendees are expected at this year's graduation ceremonies, school officials said Wednesday parking could still be a source of frustration for families.
Officials offered a few tips for attendees concerned about parking:
• Please be patient. The staff at EKU will move vehicles through the lot as quickly as possible.
• Please leave extra time before and after graduation for parking and exiting.
• Please park your vehicle facing out so that you can simply drive forward to exit your parking space. This makes the flow of traffic more efficient when exiting the lot.
• Pedestrians, please yield to motorists and use caution when walking through the lot.
• Please follow all directions of the police officers and parking lot attendants. And please ask them for assistance if needed.
• Vehicles parked in the lower east lot (closest to the Kentucky State Police Post 7) will exit left out of the parking lot in two lanes traveling eastbound on the Eastern Bypass. Vehicles parked in the upper east lot and the entire west lot (closest to Model Laboratory School) will exit to the right in two lanes traveling westbound on the Eastern ByPass.
A map outlining the proper procedure for entering and exiting the Alumni Coliseum parking lot can be viewed on the school system's website at www.madison.kyschool.us.
For those unable to attend this weekend's ceremonies, both graduations will be broadcast live on both school's YouTube channels.
• • •
Berea Community High School's graduation will be Friday night at Berea College's Seabury Center. The ceremony will start at 7 p.m.
Model Laboratory School's graduation will be Friday, May 26, at the EKU Center for the Arts. The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m.
• • •
The Register's Graduation Special Section featuring senior photos from all four Madison County high schools will be published in the Weekend edition. It will also be available for purchase Monday during normal business hours at The Register's office on Big Hill Ave. in Richmond.
Reach Ricki Barker at 624-6611; follow her on Twitter @RickiBReports.