Lee, John Tyler Graduations Moving to Rose Stadium

What some described as uncomfortable conditions at previous Robert E. Lee graduations at the Oil Palace led the school to move the big day to Rose Stadium.

"[Spectators] were up and down the whole time, the place is extremely warm. You're looking at Yay 30, even inside it's probably 90 degrees inside." Principal Fred Hayes says that was the first problem.

"We don't have a lot of options.", he says.

No building would hold the more than 5,000 people, so forget a building.  Enter the newly re-surfaced Rose Stadium.

"Last year we spent $10,000 renting the Oil Palace, to receive complaints, when we can have just as nice a graduation at Rose Stadium at no cost."

T.I.S.D. says the new artificial turf at Rose Stadium is not a concern, they'll put down plywood and erect a stage for the graduates to walk on, and unlike the Oil Palace, there's plenty of room. There is one problem they might run into, the rain.

"I think that's a little unnerving, I don't think anyone would like to see it happen in the rain," says Jonathan Smith, an editor of the Lee newspaper, the Southern Accent. And, he's graduating. He and the newspaper say too many things could go wrong.

"I like the idea of making it more formal.  I just don't think this is necessarily the answer for that," he says

"The rain possibility is a concern for us, we'd originally said we'd go to our gym, which won't house everyone," says Principal Hayes, who added the Cowan Center at UT Tyler, the now-former home of John Tyler's graduation will be the back-up.

"But, we have to have both places set, because in May you never know what the weather's going to do until it happens."

May 31st is that date... everyone's going to cross their fingers.

"We checked the average rain on that day and there's a good chance it will not rain on that day than it will rain," Hayes says.

John Tyler's graduating class was smaller, allowing it to graduate at the Cowan Center.  Lee would overflow that center, so in case of rain, some family and friends of Lee graduates will watch in another auditorium on closed-circuit television.