The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

Newsletter Signup

Get our news delivered straight to your inbox every week.

* indicates required

Student guide to graduation

Emily Simpson
The Holmes Convocation Center located on Rivers Street on April 15. The convocation center is not only the home arena for some of App State’s varsity sports teams, but the home for graduation commencement as well.

It’s five days before the first graduation ceremony, and students rush across the court in Holmes Convocation Center, placing down carpeted panels on the hardwood floor to protect it from scratches during the event.

As the days to graduation count down, students build the stage, set up audio equipment, arrange chairs, prep rooms for presenters backstage and implement security measures and equipment.

The team starts off with approximately 15 people, but by the first day of the ceremonies, a team of over 75 is assembled and trained to comply with ADA guidelines and safety regulations.

Chloe Pound

The team of students called the Appalachian ELITE Team is supervised by student employees and Trevor Rowe, the events operations manager for Holmes Convocation Center. Rowe said the team that takes care of graduation operations behind the scenes is almost exclusively composed of students.

He said he feels that sometimes college students get a “bad rap” within the workplace, but said the ceremonies wouldn’t be possible without the help of the “fantastic” team. 

“We’re on the same wavelength and they’ll go and do it,” Rowe said. “And their attention to detail is as good as some people I’ve known in the industry for 10 years when it comes to event operations.”

The team implements a wide variety of safety measures, including the use of metal detectors, bag checks and floor security.

“They’re the ones that catch things coming in, try to keep weapons out. They’re the ones helping people to their seats. They’re the ones checking bags,” Rowe said. “It’s something I’m really proud of, that some of the safest environments on campus are protected by students.”

Senior Associate Registrar Kathy Scott, said the six ceremonies, which begin on May 10 and continue through May 11, are separated by colleges. She said some smaller colleges or departments may combine with others.

Graduates with special cords will be emailed prior to the ceremony to pick them up approximately two weeks before commencement.

She said students will arrive and sit in any order they wish to, as long as they are separated by undergraduate and graduate students, and will be given a card with their name and information on it.

Graduates will then hand the card to the reader as they step on stage. The information from the card will also be used to display the graduate’s name on the live stream for viewers not in attendance.

Scott said assistants will be present during the ceremony to answer students’ questions and help with any other needs. 

“We don’t rehearse that ahead of time,” Scott said. “So, I know that can be nerve-wracking, so we want to make sure that they know there’s lots of us around to help them through that.”

As for the guest limit, Scott said students are not limited to the number of guests they may bring with them to the ceremony.

Both Rowe and Scott provided a list of helpful tips for students who will be crossing the stage this spring.

Know what you can and can’t bring

Chloe Pound

The Holmes Convocation Center has a strict clear bag policy. Any small purse or clutch that exceeds 4.5 by 6.5 inches will not be allowed inside. Clear bags are permitted, but only those that measure no more than 12 by 6 by 12 inches. Seat cushions without arms or pockets are permitted. Medically-necessary items will be granted entrance into the arena only after a “proper inspection,” per the convocation center’s website

Rowe said student employees will be stationed across sidewalks leading to the arena as well as on bus routes to remind attendees of the bag policy so they do not have to turn around when they arrive at the convocation center. 

Rowe said cameras with removable lenses are permitted as long as they are carried in a clear bag and not a traditional camera bag. He said tripods are not allowed, and those taking photos must be mindful not to block anybody’s view of the stage.

Additionally, Scott said professional photographers will be in attendance taking candid photos of graduates that family members can later purchase if they choose to do so.

Rowe said attendees are permitted to make signs to hold up for graduates, but they may not be on a wooden stick and must not obscure anybody’s view after their graduate’s name is called.

Finally, Rowe and Scott said those who will be in the ceremony should not bring bags or additional items with them except for their cellphones for photos to capture memories with.

Arrive early

Rowe said doors to the convocation center open an hour before each ceremony, and attendees and graduates should arrive when the doors first open. Additionally, he said visitors should factor in the time it will take to park and travel to the arena.

“I say if you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late,” he said.

According to the commencement information website, dedicated parking places for graduation include Rivers Street Parking Deck, Peacock Lot, New River Hall Lot, Garwood Lot and Blue Ridge (Stadium) Parking Deck. Shuttles will transport visitors parked in the New River Hall Lot and Peacock Lot and will run on a continuous loop.

Chloe Pound

Disability parking will be available on a first-come, first-served basis in the John E. Thomas Visitor and Faculty/Staff Lots and Hill Street Lot. A dedicated shuttle will transport visitors from these lots to the convocation center.

Barry Sauls with App State Parking said the designated parking locations are not expected to completely fill up.

The Blue Ridge Deck, which is our ‘last resort’ so to speak, always has at least 250-300 empty spaces after the start of each ceremony,” Sauls wrote in an email.

Have patience

Rowe said he encourages students to have patience when it comes to attending the graduation ceremonies. He said complying with student employees, parking and App State Police will ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible during the events, especially during security screening. 

“We’re not doing it to cause problems,” he said. “We’re doing it to make sure everyone’s safe.” 

Enjoy the big day

Finally, Rowe and Scott encouraged students to have fun and enjoy the big day while remembering to be proud of themselves for this major accomplishment. 

Scott said alumni events take place during the week of graduation so students can stay in touch with the App State community and network with other alumni.

Any students with questions related to graduation can email or call the Holmes Convocation Center with any questions that will help ensure they have a fun, hassle-free day.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Appalachian
Our Goal

We hope you appreciate this article! Before you move on, our student staff wanted to ask if you would consider supporting The Appalachian's award-winning journalism. We are celebrating our 90th anniversary of The Appalachian in 2024!

We receive funding from the university, which helps us to compensate our students for the work they do for The Appalachian. However, the bulk of our operational expenses — from printing and website hosting to training and entering our work into competitions — is dependent upon advertising revenue and donations. We cannot exist without the financial and educational support of our fellow departments on campus, our local and regional businesses, and donations of money and time from alumni, parents, subscribers and friends.

Our journalism is produced to serve the public interest, both on campus and within the community. From anywhere in the world, readers can access our paywall-free journalism, through our website, through our email newsletter, and through our social media channels. Our supporters help to keep us editorially independent, user-friendly, and accessible to everyone.

If you can, please consider supporting us with a financial gift from $10. We appreciate your consideration and support of student journalism at Appalachian State University. If you prefer to make a tax-deductible donation, or if you would prefer to make a recurring monthly gift, please give to The Appalachian Student News Fund through the university here:

About the Contributors
Madalyn Edwards
Madalyn Edwards, Associate News Editor
Madalyn Edwards (she/her) is a junior English major from Mount Airy, NC. This is her second year with The Appalachian.
Emily Simpson
Emily Simpson, Associate Photo Editor
Emily Simpson (she/her) is a junior Commercial Photography major. This is her first year with The Appalachian.
Donate to The Appalachian
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Appalachian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *