Class of 2023 commencement information for GHS seniors and parents

A letter from GHS Principal Michael Piscitelli

May 30, 2023

Dear Members and Parents/Guardians of the Class of 2023,

On Friday, June 23rd, a celebration of many years of hard work and dedication will occur.  The Class of 2023 Commencement will take place at the MVP Arena (formerly the Times Union Center) beginning at 11:00 a.m. We have a wonderful program planned for the 23rd, but there are many details to review beforehand. The program will take approximately 2 hours.
Please pay close attention to the items below as each outlines important information that will be the keys to making the graduation experience a success for all.

Graduation Rehearsal – Wednesday, June 21, 12:00 p.m. (East Gym)

  • Student rehearsal for the commencement will take place on Wednesday, June 21, at 12:00 p.m., in the HIGH SCHOOL EAST GYM and will last approximately one hour.  Any senior planning to attend the commencement program MUST be in attendance at the rehearsal.

Cap and Gown Distribution

  • Caps and gowns will be distributed after rehearsal for each graduate in the Large Cafeteria.  If your child forgot to order a cap and gown, please contact Caps and gowns will  not be distributed prior to rehearsal.
  • All Chromebooks, chargers, books and other materials must have been returned and all fines or fees paid prior to a student receiving his/her cap and gown – NO EXCEPTIONS.  Students are encouraged to go to the appropriate department and return materials or pay all fines/fees prior to the June 21st rehearsal. Before rehearsal on Wednesday morning, June 21, there will be tables set up near the East Gym to collect Chromebooks and take care of any outstanding Chromebook charges as well as specifically for last minute collections & payments.   

Graduation, Friday, June 23, 11 a.m., MVP Arena

  • On Commencement day, students should arrive at the site no later than 10:00 a.m. and should enter the arena from Beaver Street (the door closest to South Pearl).  Students will line up in the hallway outside the arena so that we can process in.
  • The doors to the MVP Arena will open at 10:00 a.m. (NOT BEFORE) for parental seating.  Parents should enter from the main entrance (South Pearl Street).
  • Parking will be available in the garage directly behind the arena as well as in the adjoining Capital Center. Parking will cost $5.  There is also additional parking in private lots around the MVP Arena location.
  • The MVP Arena will be setting up a bag checking station for anyone entering the graduation ceremony. If you plan on attending, we strongly recommend not bringing in any bags, so that you can more quickly enter the arena.
  • We will not be issuing tickets or limiting guests because of the capacity of the venue.  Graduation will be open seating at the event.  Handicap seating is available on the top of each seating section.
  • The commencement program is a formal exercise to honor not only the graduate, but also the proud parents. I would encourage you to discuss the importance and formality of this event with your graduate and appropriate corresponding behavior. Behaviors that disrupt the ceremony are unacceptable. Students will be expected to wear collared shirts and long pants (boys), or dress/skirt/slacks (girls). Please make every effort to discourage your child from wearing shorts, caps or any other casual attire that would detract from the formality of the event.
  • Also, students only have a brief moment to receive their diplomas on stage. Throwing objects and the disruptive behavior of students who are seated can block camera views and distract from the student who is on stage. Please speak with your child about the importance of respecting everyone’s graduation and appropriate behavior.
  • We want our seniors to enjoy the events planned for them and to do so safely. Therefore, we will be using a passive alcohol sensor at Graduation. The passive alcohol sensor is a screening device. Students who trigger the alcohol sensor will be taken to a private location to discuss with chaperones whether or not they have been drinking. If necessary, after the recommended wait time, a second test will be administered to eliminate the possibility of a misreading. If it is determined that the student is under the influence of alcohol, parents will be contacted, and disciplinary consequences will be applied in accordance with the District Code of Conduct. Please be aware that any student determined to be under the influence of alcohol at the Senior Ball or Graduation will not be allowed to participate in the event. 

Senior Pranks

Senior pranks and senior skip days are never condoned by GHS and only serve to create unnecessary disruptions and complications to what should be an enjoyable time of year for all. We are asking you, the parents, to help us avoid any unpleasant complications to your child’s final days here at GHS by reinforcing the message that the GHS Code of Conduct is still in effect and will continue to be enforced right up until your child leaves us. Senior pranks are not cute and funny; they are destructive and disruptive. Students who choose to involve themselves in any such activities may relinquish their right to participate in any of the end of the year activities. 

MVP Arena Address and Directions

  • Address: 51 S. Pearl St., Albany;
  • Directions from Guilderland:
    • Take I-90 East to I-787.
    • Merge onto I-787 South toward Albany/Rensselaer.
    • Take Exit 3B for Madison Ave/Port of Albany.
    • Bear right at third light onto South Pearl St.
    • MVP Arena (formerly Times Union Center) is on the left.

In closing, I would like to congratulate you and your graduate for the commitment and effort which made this milestone possible.  If you have any questions regarding the commencement process, please call the high school at 861-8591, ext. 1000.


Michael Piscitelli
GHS Principal

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