One Buchholz High School senior’s actions in an ongoing battle to change the location of the class of 2016’s graduation ceremony from Citizens Field to Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, ended in a victory. Gainesville High School and Eastside High School are following suit. They will also move senior graduations to Florida Field.
The ceremonies are usually held at the O’Connell Center, but the facility is unavailable due to renovations.
It was originally not possible to hold the graduation at the stadium because the University of Florida’s Athletic Association could not offer a rain date to the high schools.
Julie Diehl, the Buchholz High School senior who coordinated the campaign for change, said she felt that Citizens Field was not easily accessible or a memorable place to hold the ceremony.
Diehl started an online petition to change the location of the graduation ceremonies for all three high schools and gained 997 supporters.
“I believe there is more handicap accessibility there,” Diehl said about Florida Field. “Overall it just has nicer facilities, there’s a bathroom, places for everyone to sit so it’s not limited.”
According to a letter from Buchholz Principal Vincente Perez to the families of the high school’s graduating seniors, representatives from Alachua County Public Schools were able to work with UF to get the University Athletic Association to offer a rain date: June 11 at 2 p.m.
Perez said in his letter that he hopes the move will address parents’ concerns about facilities and parking.
Buchholz’s class of 2016 will now receive their diplomas at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on June 10 at 7 p.m. Gainesville High will graduate its senior class on Florida Field on June 11 at 9 a.m. Eastside will hold its ceremony there on the same day, but at 6 p.m. according to Alachua County Public Schools.