Graduation season is here for high schools in Pinellas County.
However, not everyone who wants to attend their school’s special event will be able to do so.
Gulfport City Councilmember Christine Brown (Ward II), a teacher at Boca Ciega High School, expressed her concerns regarding the less-than-ideal schedule under which 17 traditional high schools in the Pinellas County public school system will conduct graduation exercises. Fifteen of those senior classes will receive their diplomas at Tropicana Field in downtown St. Petersburg.
Brown took part of her regular comment time at the end of the May 2 council meeting to encourage citizens to make note of the upcoming Boca Ciega High graduation, scheduled for May 16, then mentioned that it would be a morning event. This caught at least one of her peers by surprise.
“It’s in the daytime?” asked April Thanos.
“Yes,” said Brown. “It’s kind of crazy.”
Brown went on to point out that many teachers cannot attend the Tuesday morning event because they have to be in class with students who are still in school.
“It’s sad for the graduates because they don’t get to see all their teachers there,” she said. “And it’s clearly two weeks before the other kids are done.”
Brown did not mention how a weekday morning graduation could be a hardship on family members who work, but it is highly likely that she was disturbed about that as well.
“It’s kind of crazy how the county does it,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going on up there, but they need a little guidance, in my opinion.”
Pinellas High School Graduation Schedules
Here are the dates and times for high school graduation exercises at Pinellas County’s 17 traditional high schools. All are at Tropicana Field unless otherwise listed.
Saturday, May 13: Palm Harbor University High, 4:15 p.m.; Largo High, 7:15 p.m.
Monday, May 15: Hollins High, 7:30 a.m.; Gibbs High, 10 a.m.; Northeast High, 12:30 p.m.; Pinellas Park High, 3 p.m.; St. Petersburg High, 5:30 p.m. (Clearwater High graduation is at 7:30 p.m. at Baycare Ballpark.)
Tuesday, May 16: Osceola Fundamental High, 7:30 a.m.; Boca Ciega High, 10 a.m.; Seminole High, 12:30 p.m.; Tarpon Springs High, 3 p.m.; East Lake High, 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 17: Countryside High, 7:30 a.m.; Lakewood High, 10 a.m.; RJ Technical High, 12:30 p.m. (Dunedin High graduation is at 6 p.m. at Ruth Eckerd Hall.)
Find more information – including lists of valedictorians and salutatorians as well as stories spotlighting seniors at various schools – at pcsb.org/graduation.
Despite the dissatisfaction over scheduling, Brown made a final pitch on behalf of the Class of 2023.
“There will be a bunch of new graduates [from Boca Ciega],” she said. “They’re going to be out there. Hire them. Help them.”