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Duncan High School’s graduation will bring a change of venue this year.

The Duncan High School graduation ceremony for Class of 2021 will now take place at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 20 at the main arena of the Stephens County Fairgrounds.

Duncan Public School’s Board of Education previously discussed in a special meeting the topic of moving this year’s graduation for the Class of 2021 from Halliburton Stadium to the Stephens County Fairgrounds with with hopes to provide more room and less interruptions for the family and for the graduates.

During that special meeting hosted on Wednesday, March 31 at the administration building, the board voted to secure the date for graduation and said more details would follow said approval.

Superintendent Dr. Tom Deighan announced officially Thursday the graduation for the Class of 2021 will officially move locations to the fairgrounds.

“Graduation at Halliburton Stadium is a cherished Duncan tradition,” Deighan said. “I partially experienced it last year when a dangerous lightning storm interrupted our ceremony, denying half of our graduates a walk across the stage. It was a heart-breaking end to a heart-breaking year. Since then, I have personally heard from many who are anxious that this year’s graduation will end similarly.”

Deighan said two of the last five graduations were impacted by weather.

“Normally, this means relocating to the auditorium, but since no one can predict COVID conditions over the coming weeks, I can currently only guarantee two guests per candidate if weather forces us to move,” Deighan said. “This graduation will be the first time many relatives have gathered in over a year, but if it rains, graduates will be possibly forced to choose between loved ones or to risk repeating last year’s tragic scenario. I cannot in good conscience place families in this impossible situation if we have a viable alternative.”

According to Deighan, the arena at the Stephens County Fairgrounds will provide enough room for all guests and they won’t have to worry about whether or not it will rain.

“I have personally visited the facility numerous times, consulting on site with fairgrounds staff as well as DHS principals and senior sponsors,” Deighan said. “I am confident it can be transformed into an appropriate location for this auspicious event. We do not have the luxury of using the fairgrounds as a backup location, and the final decision must be made now.”

Deighan said with all the uncertainty, the district wanted to assure a “proper graduation” for everyone invited.

“I know change can be difficult, especially regarding such cherished traditions,” Deighan said. “This is our only practical option for this year’s graduation considering the circumstances and odds.”

Deighan shared a few of the advantages for utilizing the fairgrounds include no impact from thunderstorms, a fully air-conditioned arena, ADA accessible seating, more restroom facilities, ample and convenient parking, no rental costs for the senior class, minimal clean up and set up, and minimal expense.

“I consulted extensively with staff and our Board before making this decision,” Deighan said. “As superintendent, I am wholly accountable and responsible for the venue change. I therefore request that any concerns be directed to me so our principals and sponsors can focus on creating a special night for our students.”

For any questions, contact Superintendent Deighan at tom.deighan@duncanps.org.

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