School graduation ends with families forced out

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 8:29 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Several Greene County Tech High School parents and students are hot under the collar after the school’s graduation ceremony ended with many all wet.

Students and families said they were forced to leave First National Bank Arena immediately after Friday’s ceremony into a downpour, and arena staff would not let anyone reenter.

Ashley Pollard Cupp, a graduate’s parent, said she understands there is a policy but wishes the staff was a little more flexible.

“I do understand that at every graduation previous to us, they were also ushered outside after graduation, and I understand that is First National Bank Arena’s protocol; however, to me, there has to be something in place,” Cupp said. “I mean, it wasn’t sprinkling. It wasn’t raining. It was downpouring.”

Cupp even went as far as to say the arena employees showed a “lack of human decency.”

The families and graduates weren’t the only things that got wet; the rain ruined some students’ diplomas and senior composites.

GCT administrators have already stated they will replace these items, but Cupp said she doesn’t think it’s the school’s fault.

“That shouldn’t be Greene County Tech’s responsibility,” Cupp said. “That cost has already been incurred, and now they are going to have to incur more because of how the situation was handled.”

Superintendent Scott Gerrish released a statement saying:

ASU has hosted Greene County Tech graduation ceremonies for many years, and we have always had a great experience. Greene County Tech considers ASU a valued partner in education. The district would like to acknowledge our patrons’ concerns regarding ASU’s exit policy following the ceremony Friday night. Among other concerns, many patrons were rushed out of the facility into the rainstorm and were unable to reunite with their graduates. After speaking with ASU officials, they validated our concerns and sincerely apologized. I feel confident that in the future, ASU will ensure GCT patrons have an opportunity to reunite with their graduates inside the facility following graduation. Our graduates have been notified to call our high school office at 870-215-4460 if their diploma, diploma cover, or class composite photo suffered damage from the storm.

Superintendent Scott Gerrish

A spokesperson for Arkansas State University said they hire a third party security service for events at the arena.