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CMS graduation ceremonies bring family festivities and surges of traffic

Students graduated from Merancas Middle College High, a small CMS high school that follows the CPCC calendar, last month.
@CharMeckSchools Twitter
Students graduated from Merancas Middle College High, a small CMS high school that follows the CPCC calendar, last month.

Full-scale graduation ceremonies are back for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, which expects to hand out 8,555 diplomas by the time ceremonies end Thursday.

Those ceremonies start Saturday at Bojangles Coliseum and UNC Charlotte’s Halton arena. Drivers should expect heavy traffic as graduates and guests arrive and depart (check the schedule here).

Phillip O. Berry, Butler, West Charlotte and Ardrey Kell high schools are holding ceremonies at the coliseum on Independence Boulevard Saturday. They’ll be staggered throughout the day, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ardrey Kell has the district's largest class, with about 750 graduates.

North Meck, Julius Chambers and Hopewell high schools will hold graduations at UNCC, from 12:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Monday's schedule includes Providence, Independence, Hough and West Meck at the coliseum. Mallard Creek and Myers Park will hold ceremonies at Spectrum Center uptown. CMS encourages guests to ride the LYNX light rail to avoid uptown traffic and parking.

On Wednesday Rocky River, Harding and South Meck will be at the coliseum, with Northwest, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Virtual High and Performance Learning Center at Ovens Auditorium, which is next to the coliseum on Independence.

The schedule concludes on Thursday, with Garinger, East Meck and Olympic at the Coliseum and iMECK Academy, William Montessori and Hawthorne Health Sciences at Ovens.

In-person commencement ceremonies were canceled because of COVID-19 in 2020. Last year the number of guests was limited to allow safe distancing. This year there are no restrictions, but CMS warns that "individuals deemed to be high risk should consider wearing a mask indoors as a precaution, due to Mecklenburg County moving to yellow or medium level for the spread of the COVID-19 virus."

Flowers, food, book bags, fanny packs, gifts, balloons, air horns and noisemakers are not allowed in any of the venues.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.