Atlanta Public Schools will hold most of its high school graduation ceremonies inside Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion, and the new venue means new rules for attendees. File photo STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer
Photo: Steve Schaefer

Shorter ceremonies, new rules for Atlanta's 2019 high school graduations

Atlanta Public Schools moved the 2019 high school graduation ceremonies to the McCamish Pavilion at Georgia Tech. With the new venue comes new rules and shorter ceremonies.

Because the university runs the facility, attendees must follow rules that basketball fans are accustomed to when they go to games. That means leaving big purses at home and planning plenty of time to find parking.

“Treat it like a concert,” advised superintendent Meria Carstarphen. 

The school district had to find a different location to host this year’s commencement events after the Georgia World Congress Center informed APS and other districts it would be unavailable to rent in late May because of other events. 

The school district will condense its graduation schedule into fewer days, meaning that ceremonies will be shorter than previous ones. Carstarphen said that means speeches and remarks will be edited, and there won’t be as many student musical and dance performances. 

“It’s going to be a beautiful venue, but it is going to be different to previous years so please adjust your expectations accordingly,” she told the public at a board meeting this week. 

Attendees will go through a security check before entering. 

Backpacks and big bags are prohibited. Instead, bring a clear tote bag that measures no bigger than 12-inches by 6-inches by 12-inches, a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag or a small purse no larger than 4.5-inches by 6-inches. 

Also not permitted: Beverages, food, laser pointers, video cameras, selfie sticks, umbrellas, inflated balls, and strollers, among other items. 

Parking also is limited on the college campus, and APS created a map of suggested parking places posted online here

The district also plans to run a shuttle bus from the Midtown MARTA station to the venue. 

The following high schools will hold their ceremonies at Georgia Tech’s basketball arena: 

Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy and the B.E.S.T. Academy: 4 p.m. on May 21. 

KIPP Atlanta Collegiate: 7 p.m. on May 21. 

Carver High School: 1 p.m. on May 22. 

South Atlanta High School: 4 p.m. on May 22. 

Douglass High School: 7 p.m. on May 22. 

Grady High School: 1 p.m. on May 23. 

Therrell High School: 4 p.m. on May 23. 

Washington High School: 7 p.m. on May 23. 

Crim Open Campus High School: 10 a.m. on May 24. 

Mays High School: 1 p.m. on May 24. 

Maynard Jackson High School: 4 p.m. on May 24. 

North Atlanta High School: 7 p.m. on May 24. 

Two high schools will hold their commencement ceremonies elsewhere. 

Atlanta Classical Academy will hold its graduation at 11 a.m. May 18 at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3003 Howell Mill Road N.W. 

Drew Charter School will hold its graduation at 4 p.m. May 18 at the school’s gymnasium, 300 E. Lake Blvd., S.E.

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