GRADUATION ALTERATION: The Class of 2022 faces uncertainty regarding graduation ceremony


Avery Bigham

Class of 2021 graduation. Photo from The Bugle Archives.

Take a moment to picture this. It’s the day of your high school graduation, the day you’ve been anticipating for years with an ever-present sense of excitement. You sit in a row next to your classmates, each wearing identical caps and gowns, some with honor cords or gold stoles draped around their necks, proudly displaying their accomplishments. There is a sense of unity in the room, as the 425 members of Eureka’s Class of 2022 sit in one room for the last time, preparing to take the walk across the stage that will lead them into the next stage of their lives.

And as this momentous occasion grows closer with each passing day, this scene should grow clearer. However, the lack of clarification on the ceremony venue and restrictions related to COVID-19 puts a blurred film over the details of the Class of 2022’s graduation ceremony.

According to the Rockwood School District, 2022 graduations will be held from Wednesday, June 1st, through Saturday, June 4, with each of the four high schools graduating consecutively at Chaifetz Arena, located at St. Louis University. Eureka’s graduation is scheduled for June 1st.

As of early March, Chaifetz has several restrictions put in place as a result of COVID-19. To enter the arena, individuals must either show proof of vaccination or receive a negative test result 72 hours prior to arrival at Chaifetz. This has raised concern among some Rockwood parents and students of the class of 2022, for these restrictions raise some complications related to graduation attendance.

“It’s difficult when you look at this because you certainly don’t want to put people in a precarious position. At the same time, what we do understand is that we’re going into someone else’s house,” Dr. Sink, Eureka principal, said, referencing that the restrictions put in a place at Chaifetz are ultimately under SLU’s control, as the arena is a private venue.

Although St. Louis County and St. Louis City are gradually relaxing widespread COVID-related restrictions, private businesses and institutions have the jurisdiction to implement restrictions over individual facilities.
As the rate of COVID cases reported in St. Louis continues to decrease, many businesses have decreased their regulations. In early March, the Enterprise Center announced that fans will not be required to wear masks when attending the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, which coincides with the mask mandate that expired in St. Louis on March 6 and will apply to all future Blues home games.

These developments occurring throughout venues and event spaces around St. Louis suggest that St. Louis University may decrease the restrictions put in place for Chaifetz attendees by the time graduation rolls around in June.
For the past two years, graduation has been held at the St. Louis Powerplex, a recreation complex located in Hazelwood. This venue was ideal in a time of COVID-19 due to its outdoor seating capabilities. However, this venue is no longer an option, as the complex is being transformed into an athletics facility, which was the original intention for the space. Since COVID cases have gradually decreased and restrictions on indoor venues are being lifted, graduation has now returned to Chaifetz, and it is highly unlikely that graduation will be moved from this venue.

Sink is confident that Chaifetz Arena is the ideal location, as SLU and Rockwood have been partners for many years, and the arena’s facilities are optimal for the Rockwood high schools’ graduations.

“We’ve been there before and we know how they run it. We know what the senior arrangements, parking, and the setup looks like. It’s also inside, so weather doesn’t affect our ability to pull off a great graduation. Those are the two biggest positives,” Sink said.

Regardless of the uncertainty surrounding Chaifetz Arena’s vaccination requirements, Sink assures that the class of 2022 should anticipate a spectacular graduation.

“This is going to be a great graduation. It’s going to be focused on our students, not on COVID, and it’s going to be everything a graduation should be, a celebration of our graduates. We are going to do everything we can to get back to making graduation the special event that it should be,” Sink said.