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Bulloch schools scrap graduation at Hanner citing athletic conflicts and tradition

For the first time in over a decade, Bulloch County high school seniors will graduate at their respective schools instead of at Georgia Southern’s Hanner Field House.

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The school system announced the change of location and times for the 2017 programs on Wednesday, a decision that will affect Portal, Statesboro, and Southeast Bulloch high schools this coming May.

School Superintendent Charles Wilson said in his announcement that principals, students, and parents have long requested the ceremonies take place at the high school stadiums instead of on the college campus, and that ceremonies have outgrown the Hanner Field House where each school has had a staggered time on the same day in years past.

“Our high school campuses are second homes to students, especially our seniors, and the stadiums are filled with years of school spirit and traditions,” Wilson said.  “It’s only fitting that our high schools host these milestone events where graduates’ memories are in abundance.”

But not everyone is happy.

Graduation is just 8 weeks away and some parents say invitations have been sent and plans have been made. The late-in-the-game changes are more than just an inconvenience. The school system is attempting to remedy any problems by providing packets of printed cards with the new graduation dates, times and locations. Graduates can insert them inside their invitations or mail them separately if an invitation was already sent. These will be distributed by April 11 to all graduates. That doesn’t solve complaints about the 8:30 am graduation time, though.

Other parents say they believe the change was solely because of a late-scheduled baseball tournament set to take place on the same weekend at Georgia Southern, though Superintendent Wilson disputed that claim saying the school system and GSU discussed changing the venue in 2018, and the athletic event simply advanced the timeline. Wilson maintains that GSU could have accommodated all of the events simultaneously, but traffic may have been a problem. He closed saying the change allows GSU to instead focus on athletics and the economic impact of the tournament for Bulloch County.

Admission tickets will still be required for Southeast Bulloch and Statesboro High schools. In the event of inclement weather, all three ceremonies will be moved into their respective gymnasium and limited to 4 guests per student. (EXCEPTION: No limit on PMHS guests)

The UPDATED times and locations for graduation ceremonies are below:

Portal Middle High School Graduation:     Friday, May 26, 7:00 p.m., at the PMHS Athletic Complex, located at 27245 Highway 80 West, in Portal.

Southeast Bulloch High School Graduation:  Saturday, May 27, 8:30 a.m., at Fred Shaver Field, located at 9184, Brooklet/Denmark Hwy, in Brooklet. Guests are asked to use SEBHS’s and Southeast Bulloch Middle School’s parking lots as well as the lots behind the schools along Black Creek Church Road.

Statesboro High School Graduation: Saturday, May 27, 10:30 a.m., at Womack Field, located at 10 Lester Road, in Statesboro. Guests are asked to use the school’s parking lots, the lots behind the building and the vacant field at the rear of campus.  Please do not use the private parking lots of the retail businesses along Lester Road. These are reserved for their customers.

The early morning times for Southeast Bulloch High and Statesboro High were considered due to high temperatures in May and the outdoor venue.

The school system reported in a press release that the decision to stagger school graduation times was made in order to have enough time between the ceremonies for extended family, media, administrators and the Board of Education to travel to both events.






Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for

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