by Liam Kennedy ’19
This year, senior graduation will be held on May 29 at 2:30 at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. If the mention of DAR sends a shiver down your spine, loaded with feelings of dread and exasperation, you are not alone. If you are confused as to what a “DAR” is, allow me to explain.
DAR Constitution Hall is a concert hall in downtown DC that holds the vast majority of MCPS graduation ceremonies. It is located off of Constitution Avenue, right across the street from the Ellipse. After fighting DC traffic just to arrive there, you will have a tough time actually getting off the road because there is a single parking lot within two blocks of DAR. Although administration has made an agreement with a local parking garage to have spaces available for graduation-goers, they will still have to walk a few blocks in downtown DC to fully arrive. Families are not allowed to go into the building until 30 minutes prior to the ceremony, while students are required to arrive another 30 minutes prior to that. If the parents of a student arrive with said student, they have to wait outside on a small sidewalk that all but pushes them onto the street to get run over by a car.
This problem is made worse after the ceremony ends. Friends, families, and graduates alike all swarm the surrounding sidewalks, creating a minefield as you work your way through, trying not to unintentionally photobomb any of your closest 3000 friends and family’s pictures.
There is an abundance of better options in the surrounding area to hold a commencement ceremony. Venues like Merriweather Post Pavilion, UMD’s Xfinity Center, and even Strathmore would provide a less stressful experience. While Strathmore would not have as much seating capacity, Merriweather Post Pavilion and Xfinity Center already hold many graduation ceremonies and can hold thousands of people.
Merriweather Post Pavilion holds all of Howard County Public Schools’ graduation ceremonies. Located next to the Columbia Mall, students and families would encounter little to mild traffic to arrive. It also provides a more open space for graduates to walk around and take pictures post-graduation. This is also the case with Xfinity Center, which has the added benefit of being indoors in the case of rain. Traffic might be a little more severe getting to University of Maryland, but it still surpasses DC traffic any day. In addition, parking is easier and more accessible at these locations.
MCPS needs to look into shifting their graduation ceremonies to venues like these. Some MCPS graduation ceremonies are already held at Xfinity Center, but it should hold the vast majority.