CROWN POINT — It would have been a great night for football Thursday at the Dog Pound, Crown Point High’s stadium.
But instead of athletes racing across the field, scholars marched between the lines as the Class of 2019 held its graduation ceremony in the open air. The temperature was a balmy 78 degrees, though a freshening north breeze offered relief from the heat.
The football scoreboard indicated it was the fourth quarter.
Crown Point’s graduates once celebrated this coming-of-age event at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville. Students paraded across the stage with a sense of dignity only occasionally broken by a proud family’s air horn heralding their grad’s achievement.
The Star Plaza was razed about a year ago and now the long line of seniors clad in their red caps and gowns paraded from the campus to the stadium to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance."
Many of the 730 graduates already had waded through academic recognition events, posed for prom pictures,completed their community service and collected their scholarships.
All that was left were the traditional speeches, the march to the podium and a congratulatory handshake and well wishes.
An overflow crowd of about 5,000 bearing flowers and balloons jammed the home stands for Crown Point’s 137th annual commencement ceremony. There weren’t enough parking spaces or program notes.
A number of parents and friends stood on the ground by the perimeter fence, sat in the grass or walked over the mostly empty visitor’s bleachers.
They broke into applause and cheering as the seniors filed into the stadium and their seats on the field.
The crimson tide of gowns was broken up by white, silver and gold stoles signifying students with high grades earning them cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude recognition.
More than a score of seniors wore various other colors indicating they would be joining the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or National Guard after graduation.
Others wore tassels designating their membership in the National Honor Society, National Latin Honor Society, National Quill and Scroll, National Art, National German, International Thespian and AP Capstone honors.
One senior wore jaunty sunglasses.
Summa cum laude student Arianna Smith told fellow students in a speech that following “the crazy journey called high school ... tomorrow isn’t guaranteed” and the possibility of failing generates personal determination.
Summa cum laude student Molly Angel reminded her class members of the last four years of sports victories, the lunchroom antics, and the acts of violence and terrorism around the country. She also asked them to cherish their final summer and home-cooked meals before heading out to make their individual way in life.
Principal Chip Pettit made the formal announcement that the seniors gathered were qualified for graduation. “Students, this is the moment you have been waiting for.”