Portsmouth considering moving high school graduations to Norfolk

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth high school graduates may be marching across a new stage next spring.

The school board is considering moving all high school graduations to the Ted Constant Center at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

“We want to do what’s best for the community and we want to hear from our parents,” School Board Chairman Claude Parent told 10 On Your Side.

Parent said the school board and superintendent received many complaints after graduations last spring. He and fellow board members have posted the question about moving graduations on their social media pages and they are seeing those same sort of comments pop up now. Those include limited tickets, parking problems, unpredictable weather and it’s hard or impossible to hear in the back.

“You’ve got one day and one moment in time when your child’s name is being called out and you want to hear that name and you don’t want it to be 90 degrees or this year, it was like 56 degrees,” Parent said.

On the flip side, there’s Portsmouth pride. Some want to keep graduations in the city no matter what. They have asked about other options — specifically, Willett Hall.

“Willett Hall: It’s not large enough, your high schools aren’t large enough,” Parent said.

The Ted would offer a much larger space and other schools are taking advantage of it.

Suffolk, and Chesapeake schools are traveling to the Ted for graduation, but when you’re talking Portsmouth, there’s no avoiding that thorn in many sides: Tolls. One round trip costs about $4. The school system though, would save big.

School Board member Angelia Allen told WAVY.com the Ted is about $15,000 cheaper than the Portsmouth Pavilion. Parent promises however, that money is not the big issue.

“We want to do what’s best for the community and we want to hear from our parents.”

He also said they won’t make a decision until those voices are heard.

Portsmouth schools made a robo-call to parents of rising seniors Tuesday morning. Their responses will be compiled and discussed at the next school board meeting on August 17. No date has been set for a vote at this time.