Editorial: Having a large venue for high school graduations is a nice option


It wasn't that many years back when some Harford County high schools were organizing graduation ceremonies at relatively large venues outside the county, notably in Towson.

The argument for the practice was rather pragmatic: Each graduate was allocated a relatively small number of tickets to graduation ceremonies held in the home high schools, so not all the family members who might want to attend were able to.

There were plenty of pragmatic arguments against the practice, as well. Sure, it's relatively easy to move a graduation ceremony a few miles from Fallston to Towson, but from Havre de Grace or Joppatowne to Fallston is logistically a good deal more difficult. Why should some schools be availed of a larger graduation venue, while others are not?

Then there's the practical matter that even Fallston to Towson isn't necessarily an easy trip for the families of all graduates, and the issue that someone who graduates from Harford County Public Schools probably ought to graduate in Harford County.

On the whole, the weakness of the idea of out-of-county graduations showed itself relatively quickly and it hasn't been done in recent years, but only after some new schools were built with larger auditoriums.

This year, thanks to the opening of the new Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union Arena at Harford Community College, the issue of not enough tickets is one that can be addressed locally and without having to send kids from some schools off to graduate in others. With seating for as many as 3,200 people for graduations and similar events, the new arena is substantially larger than what's available at any of the county's high schools.

This spring, five of Harford County's public high schools will be taking advantage of the extra space and holding commencement at HCC, which is perfectly reasonable. The college, and the adjacent Harford Technical High School campus, were situated to the west of Churchville on Route 22 because the site is at about the geographic center of the county.

It's nice to have a local option for expanded graduation ceremonies, but no matter how large the site of the graduation is, there will still be a seating issue for some families. The question of whether to have graduation at HCC or the individual high schools will be something of a trade-off in this regard, but at least either choice will be a local one and, just as important, a neutral one.

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