The G-8 summit is six months away and already some major changes are taking place here in Savannah. The location for high school graduations has been changed, mainly for the students' safety. But it's causing a whole new set of concerns. For more than three decades, high school seniors have spent there graduation day at the Savannah Civic Center. Now that there's a serious concern for safety, they'll have to spend their graduation someplace else.
"I think to not consider children's safety at any time would be remiss of the school system and of the community at large," said the civic center's Marty Johnston.
"We're looking at the safest place to have ceremonies given all the factors concerning the events that may be happening around the civic center, and that's why Savannah State was chosen," said James Harvey with Savannah-Chatham Board of Education.
That's a location Gary Lackey, the principal at Sol C. Johnson High School, is happy with, especially since their graduation takes place during the G-8 summit. "It makes you concerned about security and feel real confident about where we'll be," he said. "The campus of Savannah State will be much easier to make it secure compared to downtown."
Although safety is always a concern when it comes to children, the biggest issue in relocating graduation ceremonies is logistical. "Because of traffic, parking challenges, all of those things, we felt we did need to notify the school system that there would be over 10,000 visitors to the community at any given time during that period," said the Savannah Civic Center's Johnston.
The Savannah Civic Center and the board of education are already making plans for the graduating class of 2005, so this change is only temporary.