Clay County holds graduations outdoors, hoping it doesn't rain | News

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Clay County holds graduations outdoors, hoping it doesn't rain
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ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- It's a big event to remember for a lifetime.
High school graduation for 2,500 seniors in Clay County will occur tonight.

But there's also some tension - an eye to the sky - hoping rain stays away. In Clay County, six high schools have graduation ceremonies outdoors at the football stadium.

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"I have daughters of my own who go back thirty years and they graduated in the football fields and the stadiums," said Clay County Superintendent Ben Wortham. "It's an old tradition." 

It saves the school district about $30,000. Parents at Ridgeview High raise $5,000 on their own to hold it at the Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville.

"There is an expense to that," Wortham said. "That's a choice they made after a terrible rainstorm during a graduation and choose not to have to do that again."

In Jacksonville, they don't have to worry about the rain. Most graduations are held at the arena instead of an on-campus location. For the 10 graduations held at the arena this year, it costs taxpayers $74,000.

"We have had discussions with the School Board ... about graduations at schools, however we have maintained the prestige of graduation by continuing them at the arena," said Duval County Spokesperson Jill Johnson. 

There are other plans if it rains too hard or there's lightning.
They'll wait an hour to see if the storm passes.
If it doesn't, they can hold it inside the cafeteria, but that would limit the number of people who can attend to parents only.

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