FSD1 students, parents upset over 10-ticket limit graduation ceremony policy

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Parents and students in Florence County School District One are voicing their concerns about a new 10 ticket limit being enforced for graduation. They say watching a student graduate from high school can be a family's proudest moment. But with the new graduation policy, everyone may not get that opportunity.

"It's kind of a sad moment for folks that wanted to see your child graduate and now they can't," parent DeMario Pegues said.

Pegues' son, David, will be graduating from Wilson High next month. He said it was his son who showed him a letter about the new policy, adding a lot of his son's friends and their parents share the concern.

"A lot of them come from blended families such as David and it just really makes it hard on the students," said Pegues.

High school graduations are held at the Florence Center every year. Florence Center officials say the new policy is for safety and capacity reasons. But Pegues said the Florence Center has other larger events and can seat up to 10,000 people.

"You have multiple concerts throughout the year, um multiple events where you actually sell alcohol and security doesn't seem to be a situation or a problem," said Pegues.

While the arena at the Florence Center can hold up to 10,000 people, Nick Hooker with the Florence Center said the set up for high school graduations is different. A large stage, use of curtains and backstage area, and chairs on the floor for graduating seniors take up a lot space in the arena and leaves a capacity of just 4,000 people.

Last year, Hooker said graduation crowds went over capacity for the first time, and some people didn't get in.

"That is the last thing we want to do is close the doors on some mother and father who can see their children get a chance to graduate," Hooker said.

Hooker said the new limit will ensure those close to the student will see them walk across the stage. He adds they've been working with the high school principals, law enforcement and even the FBI to ensure everyone is safe at gradation.

"It's not an overnight conversation, you know, this is something we've been in talks with for over three years, but we've been watching the class sizes and graduation class sizes,  and attendance numbers over several years, it's just filling up," Hooker said. "You know it just comes down to capacity and basic math when we look at how many seats we have available."

Florence One School District high school graduation is June 2.

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