The reason centers around the Nevada Department of Transportation’s decision earlier this spring to begin its massive overhaul of the Intestate 80 on- and off-ramps to Fourth Street and Wells Avenue, and several street construction upgrades surrounding the center — all happening this week and next, said Vangie Russel, a project manager for the district.
The confusion with the streets and the ongoing parking problems with accessibility for parents and grandparents, preventing them from watching their children receive a diploma, added to the decision to move the venue, Russel said.
“The Reno-Sparks Convention Center not only provided better and more parking, it gave the district an opportunity to provide a way for elderly and disabled attendees to be dropped off at curbside and directed to chairs on the floor that would allow them also have a close look at the graduates,” Russel said. “With the convention center, you are much more able to drop off right at the front door. It’s just much more accessible. The floor seating and four large (television) screens on the floors parents can watch make it so parents can see what’s going on on the stage.
“We find that it’s much more accessible and memorable for our students,” Russel said.
Crews were hard at work Monday putting up chairs and decorations for 500 attendees Wednesday. The biggest difference between the two venues will be that Lawlor Events Center has stadium seating while the convention center is set up for floor seating, Russel said. The district will try to make up for it with the large-screen televisions and the better parking.
Other than that, “It’s very comparable,” Russel said. “They’ll be pleased.”
This marks the first time graduation will be held at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in 20 years. In theory, some members from last class to graduate from the convention center could have children who will walk the stage this weekend.
“It’s really going to work well,” Russel said.
All county high schools will use the facility for their graduations, except Incline Village, Ticollo (a special-needs school) and Truckee Meadows High School, which will hold its ceremony at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.
Graduation ceremonies will begin starting with Sparks High School at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The final class will graduate from Reno High School at 6 p,m. Saturday.
Superintendent Health Morrison will speak at each ceremony and several board of trustees members will attend, Russel said.
The Sparks Police Department reported Monday that it will have extra patrols working to curb the underage drinking that historically goes with the end of school and graduations. The patrols will be on duty Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The specific intent of the patrols will be to respond to underage parties or gatherings where alcohol is believed to be present.
Anyone who knows about an underage gathering where alcohol is present, is encouraged to contact the Sparks Police Department at 353-2231.