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Caroline High moving its graduation to UMW
Date published: 5/4/2012
When all events at the Meadow Event Park were canceled due to bankruptcy of the State Fair of Virginia, 278 Caroline High School seniors were left with no place for graduation.
Finding a new location for the June 1 ceremony was at the top of the to-do list for Richard "Soup" Griffin soon after he started the interim principal job at the end of February.
"There was a tremendous panic," he said.
A few places came to mind, but they didn't pan out.
The Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center and Seigel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond were too expensive, he said.
And Randolph-Macon College in Ashland was already booked that day.
But an idea came to him while watching a basketball game at the University of Mary Washington's Anderson Center.
"I wonder if we could have it here," he thought. Then he pitched it to his colleagues.
Caroline High teachers Pat Douglas and Sam Frye got on the ball trying to organize every detail while also notifying students and parents of the change.
"Mary Washington saved us," Frye said. "It was reasonably priced, and they've been very accommodating."
The Anderson Center, named for President Emeritus William M. Anderson Jr., is a 52,000-square-foot multi-use convocation facility that can hold more than 3,000 people for events and concerts.
It opened last August and is adjacent to Goolrick Hall.
Caroline High School will be the first high school to hold a graduation there.
James Monroe will hold its graduation at the Anderson Center on June 15.
Griffin said students are excited about having the graduation at UMW, and that it was a much better alternative than the Caroline High football field, which is where it had been held before it moved to the state fairgrounds two years ago.
Douglas said she isn't sure if they'll continue to use Mary Washington in the future or if they'll go back to the Meadow Event Park.
"It was nice to have it in the county [at the Meadow Event Park], but now we don't know who will buy it or what the events will be," she said.
The Caroline High School class of 2012 graduation will be held at 7 p.m. June 1.
Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419