New graduation venue gets thumbs up

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Outdoor ceremonies also have downsides, too, officials noted, ranging from heat and humidity to noise from low-flying airplanes.

Pompilio said that moving to Tilles solved just about every problem. Replacing a recording, Central’s concert band played “Pomp and Circumstance,” the national anthem and the recessional. The seniors were on stage, facing the crowd. Families received twice the number of tickets they have in the past. And, Pompilio noted, everyone seemed to dress nicer because there were no concerns about the heat. Overall, he noted, the ceremony felt more dignified.

He said he hopes to keep Central’s graduation there or at a similar off-campus site long-term. Cummings agreed, though he noted one drawback to the venue — the distance. “The Tilles Center was great, [but] it was far,” he said. “With the traffic that day, it was terrible.”

Patty Farrell, president of the Central/Memorial PTSA — whose oldest son, Daniel, was a graduate — said she wants to return to LIU Post in four years, when her other son leaves Central. “I hope they keep the Tilles Center,” she said. “I know a few parents would prefer to have it closer.”

Farrell said that the facility was beautiful and comfortable, and the ceremony was well done. The change didn’t seem to matter to the seniors, she added, who were simply excited to move on to the next stage of their lives.

Each graduate received six tickets for family or friends. The venue seats 2,242 people, so, Pompilio said, with a graduating class of 340, the district had to limit the number of guests, though most families seemed satisfied with six. If graduation were to be held at Tilles again, Pompilio added, he would try to collect tickets that would otherwise go unused to meet requests for extras.

The change was not made on a whim. Pompilio said that he consulted with numerous parent leaders and students before the decision was made to move graduation off campus. Few opposed the idea, he said, knowing the alternative if it rained on graduation day.
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