New graduation venue coming for Kent students

Kent high-school seniors will have to drive to the Tacoma Dome to graduate this June, but next year’s graduating class will be walking across a more local and much newer stage.

  • Thursday, May 22, 2008 9:04pm
  • News

Erica Flores and Isaiah Rollolazo

Class of 2009 will keep it local

Kent high-school seniors will have to drive to the Tacoma Dome to graduate this June, but next year’s graduating class will be walking across a more local and much newer stage.

The Kent Events Center, which is expected to be complete by January 2009, will not only be the new home of the Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team. It also will be the site of future graduations for local high-school students.

The venue change will occur next year, the Kent-Meridian, Kentridge, Kentwood and Kentlake Classes of 2009 being the first to graduate at the $78.6 million, 6,025-seat arena instead of the Tacoma Dome. Kent Mountain View Academy and Kent Phoenix Academy senior classes, which are typically much smaller, likely will continue to graduate at Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center.

The Tacoma-based arena previously was the closest venue able to accommodate the four high schools’ senior classes, which regularly consist of almost 500 students.

“While the Tacoma Dome works because it’s large, it’s really a lot of trouble getting down there, especially for kids and parents without transportation,” said Becky Hanks, district spokesperson. “In contrast, this will provide an immediate backyard intimacy, so everyone’s really thrilled about it.”

The spokesperson said the district also is excited to start working with the City of Kent on graduation events.

“We already have some great partnerships with the City of Kent, and this will be one more way we can partner with them,” Hanks said.

Several members of next year’s graduating class also showed their excitement for the change April 15, showing up to sign the final beam after it was put into place at a special ceremony. “We’re starting a tradition,” said Erica Flores, a Kent-Meridian junior and member of the Class of 2009, after signing the beam.

Hanks said the district has yet to plan the ceremonies with Kent Events Center management, but they expect to begin negotiations soon.

“I’m sure we’ll be sitting down with the management in the next several months,” she said.

Contact Daniel Mooney at 253-437-6012 or

This year’s graduation schedule

Ceremonies for the classes of 2008 will take place next month at their regular venues. They are:

Kent Phoenix Academy — 7 p.m. June 12 — Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center

Kent Mountain View Academy — 7 p.m. June 13 — Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center

Kentwood High School — 10 a.m. June 14 — Tacoma Dome

Kent-Meridian High School — 12:30 p.m. June 14 — Tacoma Dome

Kentridge High School — 3 p.m. June 14 — Tacoma Dome

Kentlake High School — 5:30 p.m. June 14 — Tacoma Dome

Contact the schools for more information, or visit the Kent School District Web site at

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