Aurora -- After about a dozen years of conducting Aurora High School's commencement at Parkside Church in Bainbridge Township, the district moved the event to Kent State University's MAC Center this year.
Superintendent Russ Bennett explained the event, at which 265 seniors graduated May 31, was moved this year because renovations were being planned at Parkside when the commencement location had to be selected, making the venue off limits for such a large gathering.
"The School Board looked around for an alternate location, and considered a handful of sites," Bennett said. "There are some possibilities in Akron, but we thought that was too far away for us. KSU isn't too far away."
AHS Principal Mike Roberto said after the ceremony that everything went smoothly, and it was a nice venue. He said not having to ration tickets was a huge advantage.
The MAC Center holds about 5,000 people, and it was more than half filled with onlookers and participants.
Bennett said the MAC Center was not available on a week night, so a Saturday evening date was selected.
"The main advantage of having commencement at KSU is we didn't have to ration tickets," Bennett said. "With the seats [nearly 5,000] available at the MAC Center, we could accommodate all family members and friends of graduates who wanted to come."
He added KSU also affords plenty of parking, although he admitted the parking at Parkside also is adequate.
"Kent State has been very cooperative, and I think things went pretty well," Bennett said.
He said Kent Roosevelt also conducts its commencement at KSU, but he is not sure whether any other area high schools do. It is unknown at this time whether the graduation ceremony will remain there in coming years.
"As for future years, we'll just have to see," he said. "We'll have to evaluate the experience, see what our options are and make a decision each year."
District Treasurer Bill Volosin said KSU is a more expensive than Parkside. The district's contract to rent the MAC Center called for an expenditure of "up to $7,500" -- an exact figure is not yet available -- while it paid Parkside $1,400 in 2013.
Prior to moving the event to Parkside, it mostly took place in the high school's gymnasium, which became very cramped as senior class sizes grew.
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