I’m merrily typing a news brief for next week’s print issue of the Lightning when the annual stumper hits me: Why in heaven’s name does Hendersonville High School insist on holding graduation in the Jim Pardue gym when it’s got a perfectly good stadium on the property?
I’m sure there must be a reason. HHS, which drips of tradition in everything it does, stands alone among the four county high schools in holding the annual sheepskin cattle call indoors. Because the gym is always sweltering hot, the school positions industrial fans all over the floor to cool the proud but wilting victims in the stands.
Why not use Dietz Field? I’ve heard that traffic noise is a factor, a problem the other schools out in the country don’t have. But you can’t hear in Jim Gym anyhow because of the fans, and I don’t mean parents and grandparents. Sounds like a World War II-era Rolls-Royce prop-engine testing floor in there.
HHS ranks high in a lot of categories but not in stadium view. It’s an urban setting, if you can call a town of 12,000 souls urban. I’d rank North and West as the top 2 settings — nice mountain views from the stands at both of those stadiums.
But that is not to say that Dietz Field would be unsuitable for the final scholastic curtain call. And if not there, why not the auditorum? I think I’ve heard the auditorium does not seat enough, although everyone manages to squeeze in for the marathon Move Up ceremony the morning of graduation day.
HHS is the only high school in the county where graduation is an afterthought. There’s no way the school can top Move Up, which reduces the Bearcat Nation to puddles in one long happy-tearful-draining farewell march to adulthood. It takes the afternoon to recover. Then we dutifully flock back to the gym (beside the old stone gym, built as a Depression-era WPA project) and perch on the hard seats, trying to keep out backs straight. We watch ‘em go by, one by one, to greater glory.
I wear a red tie.