Graduation: Behind the Scenes

It’s a day four years in the making, and it comes with all the pomp and circumstance that is warranted. Graduates make sure their robes are straight, arrange their tassels so they are on the correct side of their caps, and get ready to take that fateful walk across the stage signifying the end of their K–12 careers.

Graduates and their families aren’t thinking about everything that goes on to make this day possible, which is the whole intent of everyone working behind the scenes.

Planning for Littleton Public Schools’ graduation ceremonies starts about a year in advance, sometimes more. When ceremonies are held at a venue like The Ritchie Center at Denver University, the reservation process begins typically two years in advance. Then, during the school year there are planning meetings between high school staff, operations and maintenance, transportation, and security. In a typical year, there really only needs to be one or two meetings to get everything planned, but in this year with all the changes due to Covid, there were at least four. In addition to this, there is a lot of intradepartmental communication to make sure teams are ready to execute their tasks leading up to and on the day of graduation.

Starting about a week before the big day, there’s a five-person grounds team that spends all their time working at the LPS Stadium to make sure it’s ready. There are many emails and some impromptu meetings that happen at the transportation department to make sure drivers are ready and familiar with how shuttling families will go. The district touches base with Arapahoe Community College, who generously allows the use of some of their parking lots as overflow/shuttle lots for graduation day. LPS Security does community outreach so neighbors are aware of any road closures or detours they’ll need to take as a result of the events and to ensure cars are parked in such a way to allow LPS buses through. Schools finalize their contingency plans in case of inclement weather.

On the day of graduation, there are nine bus drivers and several mechanics on duty, as well as some people on standby, just to make sure families make it to the district stadium on time. Buses selected for this job include integrated child seats and wheelchair loading capabilities to ensure all family members have a place to sit. There are also custodial teams from all the high schools who set up the graduates’ chairs and the podiums, and crews of 10–16 operations and maintenance personnel direct traffic for parking. There are officers from Littleton Police Department who help work graduation as part of the district’s partnership with that agency, and there’s also an EMT on standby in case of a medical emergency.

To add a level of difficulty, sometimes graduation takes place on a day when the rest of the district is still in school, but staff from all departments and schools understands the importance of this day in the life of an LPS student and pulls together to make it happen in the most seamless way possible.

Congratulations to LPS’s 2021 graduating class!