'We decided to take action’: Lynchburg student leads charge in graduation venue saga

District has changed location of graduation three times since late last year

LYNCHBURG, Va. – One local teen helped solve a big problem for Lynchburg schools and their soon-to-be graduates.

Tyler Coleman can’t wait to graduate. He’s headed to Central Virginia Community College to become a paramedic.

“I just want to help people a lot,” Coleman said.

The 17-year-old Heritage High School senior and his twin have family flying all the way in from California to watch them graduate.

But right after winter break, school district officials told Heritage High School and E.C. Glass High School students they couldn’t have graduation at Liberty University’s Vines Center because it would be under construction at that time.

The schools would have to move graduations back to the high school campuses. And with limited space, only a select number of family members would be able to attend per student.

“So we had already made the plans with them and then telling them, ‘Hold on. We don’t know yet’ after they had already bought their plane tickets. It was kind of disappointing,” Coleman said.

Both high schools already use City Stadium for football games, Coleman thought, why not have graduation there?

“A lot of the students were upset so we decided to take action. So, I started a petition and I got quite a bit. I got over 100 signatures just from Heritage,” Coleman said.

School district officials agreed and put it to a senior vote.

“First they said, 'Stand up if you’d like to stay at Heritage. Some kids got up. And then he [the principal] was like, ‘OK, if you would like it to be at the City Stadium, get up.’ And basically the whole auditorium was up. It was full of people standing," Coleman said.

Lynchburg Parks and Recreation Support Service Manager John Ramsey says they were happy to step in.

“It’s really nice clean lines. Just a great place for a graduation,” Ramsey said.

The change to City Stadium marks the third time the venue for the two graduation ceremonies has changed since late last year.

The school district can use the venue free of charge will have to pay for decorations and other accommodations, which is how it would be if the ceremonies were held at the schools.

The following is a message that the Heritage and E.C. Glass principals sent to their seniors:

"After talking with and listening to our students, our administrative team has decided that we will hold the 2020 graduation ceremony at City Stadium this year.

Heritage High School graduation will be at 9 a.m.

E. C. Glass High School graduation will be at 6 p.m.

The reason for this decision is because the majority of our students and families expressed strongly that they want to be able to invite more family members and friends to attend their graduation ceremony. By holding graduation at City Stadium, we will no longer have to limit the number of guests who can attend the ceremony. We appreciate all the feedback we received from our students and families that has helped us make this decision.

If weather interferes with plans to hold graduation outdoors at City Stadium, the alternate location will be to hold graduation back at the respective high schools. We will issue “weather tickets” prior to graduation. This will mean that if the ceremony is moved back to the schools, only those with “weather tickets” will be able to attend. A weather decision will be made 24 hours prior to the ceremony, and it will be based on the forecast for that day.

We are looking forward to a great ceremony this year that will be a truly memorable experience for our graduates and their families and friends!"

About the Author

You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!

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