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Morning Sun
  • Redone arena prompts commencement changes

  • Those attending Friday’s commencement ceremonies at Pittsburg State may not notice the changes in look and feel to the commencement, but those who have been to multiple ceremonies certainly will.



    Thanks to brand-new hardwood floors and seating in John Lance Arena, there will be several differences this year than in past years.

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  • Those attending Friday’s commencement ceremonies at Pittsburg State may not notice the changes in look and feel to the commencement, but those who have been to multiple ceremonies certainly will.
    Thanks to brand-new hardwood floors and seating in John Lance Arena, there will be several differences this year than in past years.
    “It really should make for a more comfortable and pleasant experience,” said Chris Kelly, Pittsburg State director of university marketing and communications. “We will have seatbacks and a better layout — much better. There will be a new floor covering. The stage will go up [today] to make way for Friday’s ceremonies.”
    As for changes, it starts with the stage, which will be in a different place. Rather than be on the north side of the facility, the stage will now be set on the west side.
    This new arrangement will put the stage in front of a new banner/backdrop on the west side that depicts several campus facilities.
    “We lost some seats on the west side, and ulled those completely out. But for the first time in my memory, we’ll have some seating on the floor for family and friends,” Kelly said. “The main seating on the floor will be for the graduates. There will be an aisle, but there will be a couple hundred seats for family on the floor. We expect it’ll be exciting for people to be down there. We made up for the loss in seats by putting some down there.”
    Beyond that, the university will take a further step to make sure everyone can see the stage. For the first time, the event will be streamed online.
    At the commencement, there will also be a large screen with video to give those on the east side a way to see a closer look at  their loved ones crossing the stage.
    “It’s something new. We hope it works out,” Kelly said.
    Speaking of the floor, that’s another change. With hardwood floors now encompassing the site, crews spent part of the time on Tuesday putting down a new carpet in sections that will help prevent the hardwood from being scratched.
    “I like this a lot more,” said Rick Fox, custodian. “It looks a lot better than the tarps we used to put down. With the black mats we put on it, it didn’t look too bad. But this looks a lot better. Much more professional.”
    Kelly said the carpet was a no-brainer, especially after the Whetzels paid for the new-look John Lance Arena.
    “That’s one of the things, is that with brand-new hardwood, the last thing you want to do is put metal chairs on there,” Kelly said. “The floor covering adds a little bit of class to it. When we remove the basketball goals, it opens up a little bit more lighting and really helps maximize the stage. It’s a much better experience.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Furthermore, Kelly noted the efforts that went into making sure the protective carpet — as well as the seating arrangements — are looking in tip-top shape by the time family and friends show up on Friday.
    Fox also noted that his crews would have to bust out the measuring tape, as they always do, in order to make sure the seats are in precisely the correct order.
    “My hat goes off to the Physical Plant and all who are involved,” Kelly said. “I think we get the carpet in 3’x6’ sections, and they put it in piece by piece to look good. The stage will go up [today]. What’s really neat is the little things that make a difference. Each chair, they use a string to make sure each chair is in the perfect location.”
    Fox also noted that the arena will have a handicapped ramp into the south bleachers and rails along many of the bleachers to help some to their seats.
    Kelly said that the winter graduation is, in some ways, being used as a trial run for the spring graduations.
    “Thankfully, in the spring, each college gets its own graduation, so there are four separate commencements,” he said.
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.
     

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