FYIs for attendees
• Make sure to bring a ticket. You must have a ticket to enter the stadium.
• If you plan on sitting on the home side, you must enter at the east entrance; for the visitor side, you must enter at the south.
• Do not bring umbrellas. They will not be allowed for shade because they will block the view from others around you.
• Everyone must be seated prior to graduation starting.
• Do not sound horns, ring bells or scream.
As graduation ceremonies kick off tonight with Eastside High School, many parents are wondering where to park and how to navigate the area around Sharp Stadium, where the Class of 2012 will have its commencement this year.
Covington Police Capt. Ken Malcom said the plan for graduation is similar to that of an in-county football game, where there are typically extreme amounts of traffic in the area surrounding the stadium. However, Covington Police and members of the Newton County School System, Covington Explorers and Newton County Sheriff's Office will be helping handle traffic to ensure a smooth flow.
Students have parking passes and a designated parking area close to the Board of Education and the Newton County Theme School at Ficquett and there will be handicap accessible parking in the gravel lot on the home side of the stadium (the entrance is closest to Mill Street, next to the Department of Family and Children Services). The rest of the parking is first-come-first-serve. Law enforcement will be monitoring the lots and when they are full they will begin directing traffic to the Legion Fairgrounds on Mill Street.
While Malcom concedes the fairgrounds may be inconvenient, they provide the amount of space needed since each graduate has 10 tickets available to them and there are 313 seniors at Alcovy, 281 at Eastside and 365 at Newton, according to the most recent enrollment report.
Malcom said they expected an influx of people rather then a gradual arrival like at a football game. However he said that despite that they feel that preparations have been adequately made to handle the traffic caused by the coming and going on vehicles at the ceremonies.
There will also be a tent outside at the visitor's gate with an EMS unit on standby just in case of any medical issues that may arise and officers monitoring the parking areas during the ceremonies.
"Be patient, understand that we are managing the lot and as the lot fills up we may direct people away to the fairgrounds but there will be help. We don't anticipate there being a shortage of parking but if you want to get the best spot you need to show up early," said Malcom. "You also want to be courteous and mindful of your neighbor during the ceremony. The CPD along with our friends at the NCSO are going to do everything we can to make it a pleasant experience getting to and from each graduation."