State College Area High School students get to take advantage of their proximity to Penn State by accepting their diplomas every year at the Bryce Jordan Center.
That won’t happen for members of State High’s Class of 2014, who will walk at Pegula Ice Arena instead.
The Jordan Center will be “undergoing significant renovations involving the main floor of the arena,” according to an email State High Principal Scott DeShong sent to parents on Saturday.
But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing for the students to hear.
“From first impressions, I’m pretty upset,” said senior Grace Kiver, a symphonic band member who has played at commencement for the past three years. “Every year, I’ve pictured myself in those chairs and crossing that stage and being in that energetic environment. Right now, I feel like it won’t be as special to me because it’s not what I’ve been dreaming of for three years.”
DeShong said in his email that the school had explored different options for graduation before settling on Pegula.
“Penn State will melt the ice on the arena floor and remove the protective glass,” the email said. It also mentioned that parking would still be available at the Jordan Center, with handicapped parking at Pegula.
There could still be an effect on turnout, however. The ice arena, which opened in September, has a capacity of 5,782, more than 10,000 fewer seats than BJC. Last year, State High had almost 600 students walk at graduation.
“I don’t recall how full BJC has been in years past, but some of my extended family from England are coming over for the ceremony. If a lot of students have extended family attending commencement, it’s going to be packed,” said Kiver.