The UIC Pavilion in Chicago will remain the graduation venue for Proviso Township High School District 209 students despite some school board members’ preference to have the ceremonies take place locally. 

“I’m used to having [graduation on campus],” said board member Theresa Kelly. “We used to have it outside.” 

During a regular board meeting on Sept. 18, Nicole Howard, the assistant superintendent for academics, student and family services, said that district officials searched a variety of local venues.

“Space was a huge factor,” said Howard. “Many of the local venues are suitable for crowds of less than 2,000, including many of the local universities, and that poses a big problem, especially for the larger schools like Proviso West.” 

Howard said that with a capacity of 2,000, “you’re looking at limiting families to about two tickets.” 

She said that holding graduation ceremonies at East and West, the capacity decreases to around 1,100. The addition of chairs might push that number up, she said. 

Howard said that the cost of rentals, paying faculty and maintenance staff, sound systems, temperature controls, among other costs, could add up to around $40,000. The capacity limitations and the cost, she said, made holding graduation on the district’s campuses a less feasible option than holding it at another venue. 

She said that the cost of renting the Donald Stevens Convention Center in Rosemont, one of the closest venues big enough to hold the graduation, is around $50,000 — much more than the roughly $32,000 it costs to rent out the Pavilion, which can seat up to 8,000 people. 

“UIC is still the best option for us to house the graduation comfortably and cost-effectively,” she said. 

Jeremy Horn, who graduated from Proviso East in 2003, recalled for board members that during his graduation ceremony, held in the high school’s football stadium, the tickets were limited. 

Currently, students are given 10 tickets, with the option of requesting more if they need them. The board did not vote on the matter, but a consensus of members directed district staff to work on securing the UIC Pavilion.