Last-minute change to SAISD graduation plans leaves families scrambling for limited seats

The announcement that graduation would go from a 23,000-seat venue to an indoor one with fewer than 5,000 seats sparked frustration for some and relief for others.

SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio ISD’s decision to move all of this week’s graduation ceremonies indoors out of safety concerns amid a heat wave had some parents heated over the last-minute change. 

Some were forced to watch virtually Tuesday night due to the limited capacity of 4,299 at the Alamo Convocation Center, down from about 23,000 which can be seated at the regular Alamo Stadium venue, which is outdoors. 

SAISD officials told KENS 5 they voted last fall to hold an outdoor graduation come June 2024. The district also says families were made award the weather could change those plans. 

This week, it did. Temperatures several degrees above normal are baking the metro this week, with Tuesday’s high of 103 degrees breaking a 108-year-old record for June 4. As a result, loved ones of outgoing seniors at Brackenridge High School found themselves lining up hours before the 8 p.m. ceremony began Tuesday night — some as early as 5:40 p.m.  — so as not to miss out on seeing it in person. 

Margarita and Luis Zamora were grateful for the cool relief of the indoor setting after seeing their older children all graduate outdoors at Alamo Stadium. 

“This time they did pretty good, so I was like, ‘Thank you! Thank you for thinking about everyone,'” Luis said. 

But not everyone was happy with the move, which was announced just in the last few days. Robert Martinez said her son will graduate from Highland this weekend. 

“Out of nowhere, (I was) finding out on social media — not even from the school or district — that they were going to be moving to the convocation center and each student was going to be allotted a certain amount of tickets,” she said. 

In another change, guests were welcome on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once the center was full, people watched the ceremony on the big screen at the adjacent Alamo Stadium. It was also livestreamed via SAISD’s website. 

And certain families told KENS 5 they wished the ceremonies were held in the stadium while the convocation center was reserved as an overflow area for vulnerable guests who may have struggled with the heat. 

“Some driving in, some flying in, and they are not guaranteed a spot,” one parent said. “I have spoken to people personally whose family members have even cancelled coming in at all.”

For the Zamoras, however, waiting a few hours to celebrate more than a decade of their daughter’s hard work was well worth it. 

“She did it, she did it!” Luis Zamora said. “So thank God we are here too.”

Sam Houston’s graduation ceremony is scheduled for Friday night, while Highlands seniors will graduate Saturday. Edgewood ISD, meanwhile, said the graduation ceremonies for Kennedy and Memorial high schools will both start 30 minutes later, at 8:30 p.m., to account for this week’s extreme heat. 

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