Seniors from Franklin County and Western Hills High School became alumni at their respective graduation ceremonies on Saturday.
Both graduation ceremonies were held in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington for the second year in a row. Previously, the high schools held their ceremonies in the Frankfort Convention Center before it was demolished in 2017.
On Saturday, FCS Communication and Information Coordinator Kristen Waits said that the district does not record attendance at the ceremonies. She said that WHHS had about 180 graduates and FCHS had about 230.
"We don’t really have a way to count the number of people who attend today since there are multiple doors that attendees can enter," Waits said in an email.
The State Journal took photos of each section in the arena during Saturday's graduations and counted all persons visible in the photographs. About 2,400 people attended Western Hills' graduation and about 2,200 attended Franklin County's graduation, according to the unofficial count. This method does not account for persons who may have arrived later in the ceremony or left early.
In a September board meeting, Kopp said that using Kentucky State University’s Exum Center or the high schools' gyms and football fields would limit the number of attendees, according to previous State Journal reporting. Alltech Arena's general seating capacity is 5,290, and the Exum Center's capacity is 2,750. The Frankfort Convention Center had about 5,000 seats.
According to the contract that the Franklin County Board of Education approved, the total cost of renting Alltech Arena this year was $10,000, split among Franklin County Schools, Scott County Schools and Woodford County Schools. Each high school contributed $2,500. This amount does not include the price to rent microphones and podiums. The four schools also split the cost of renting 520 chairs, which was a total of $1,820. The contact also said that KHP waived its regular parking fees for all attendees.
During Saturday's ceremonies, Western Hills Senior Class President Kathryn Gay and Franklin County Senior Class Co-Presidents Julia Blackburn and Allen Slaughter gave speeches for their respective schools.
"Today is a day worth celebrating. We made it," Blackburn said.
FCHS also inducted alumni and prominent contributors into its Hall of Fame, as it typically does during graduation ceremonies. This year's inductees were golf professional Carmello Benassi, attorney and civic leader Jennifer Yue Barber, educator Sharon Childers Collett, chef and entreprenuer Toa Veerasethakul Green, businessman and political leader Russell A. Meyer and public health leader Thomas L. Hearn.