Falmouth High School seniors to graduate at Merrill Auditorium in Portland

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FALMOUTH — As the Falmouth High School Class of 2010 prepares to graduate, students are going through many of the same motions as the years and years of high school seniors before them.

But this year will be different: commencement will be held at Merrill Auditorium in Portland instead of in the high school gym.

“The gym wasn’t large enough,” Superintendent Barbara Powers said. “It has been increasingly difficult to accommodate the seating for our graduates’ families.”

So the 169 graduating seniors took matters into their own hands. They raised the approximately $3,000 necessary to rent the 1,900-seat Merrill Auditorium.

“This class came in with a substantial amount of fundraising already done in previous years,” senior class adviser Joe Porter said. “They’ve even been able to give a lot of it away to charity.”

The move to Merrill will allow the graduates 10 tickets each, rather than the four to six that would have been available if graduation were held in the gym.

Principal Allyn Hutton said the school did a survey of students and parents to determine which venue they would prefer, and that the response was in favor of Merrill.

It was a stroke of luck that Scarborough High School, which had already reserved the auditorium for June 13, canceled because it was moving its ceremony to the Cumberland County Civic Center. This allowed Falmouth to keep the traditional second Sunday in June as a graduation date.

But the most exciting part of the move, Powers said, is the air conditioning.

“We’ve had a few very hot graduations at the gym,” she said. “A lot of students have elderly grandparents and the gym is not very comfortable for them.”

Parking is one issue the school will have to deal with in Portland. While on-street parking is free on Sundays in the city, the annual Old Port Festival will be going on at the same time as Falmouth’s graduation. So, the school decided to rent a parking lot adjacent the auditorium for attendees; $10 parking passes are available for purchase along with graduation tickets.

The students will be bused in together from the school.

“We’re very excited about the new venue,” Powers said. “It’s going to be much more comfortable for everyone.”

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or [email protected]