JHS Returns to The Bowl for Normal Hot Graduation, District Says Not Feasible to Air Condition Bowl

By Jeremy Coumbes on May 19, 2022 at 8:53pm

The 2022 graduating class of Jacksonville High School will get to experience a normal commencement ceremony Friday night that is sure to include the time-honored traditions of a packed JHS Bowl and sweltering heat.

After two years of graduation ceremonies that adhered to ongoing Covid-19 protocols during the pandemic, The Bowl will be open for a back to normal graduation with the ceremony kicking off at 7:00 pm.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek spoke with the District 117 Board of Education about graduation during the May meeting of the board on Wednesday and said it is going to be hot again this year for the ceremony and suggested the board wear lighter clothes.

During the discussion, another annual tradition unfolded as someone present asked about installing air conditioning at The Bowl to make graduation more tolerable in the years to come.

Ptacek says adding AC to The Bowl has actually been considered by the district, including during the Vision 117 project planning. “We’ve looked into that, the volume of the Bowl, the necessity to replace windows, and a lot of other work to be able to have that air conditioning work efficiently- you’re talking a minimum of $1.5 and more realistically up to $2 million dollars to air-condition The Bowl with anything effective, for one night a year. Basically, the only time in our current use of The Bowl that the lack of air conditioning is having a major impact on the district and the use of the facility is on graduation.”

Ptacek says unfortunately, it does not make good sense to spend the roughly two million on air conditioning at The Bowl when there are still many other facilities in District 117 that need more important updates that would be used more often.

I cannot recommend air conditioning at The Bowl when we’re still using window air conditioners at North Elementary, or Murrayville-Woodson. Our other needs for buildings that have students in them every day far outweigh the use of The Bowl in a graduation ceremony when we mainly use The Bowl during the winter. You don’t have an air conditioning problem during basketball and wrestling season.”

Ptacek told the board the “feels like” temperature was at the time predicted to be 89 degrees with an actual air temperature of 86 degrees in the middle of the afternoon, and as per usual The Bowl won’t get much cooler once everyone files in.

The 2022 Jacksonville High School Commencement Ceremony will begin at 7:00 pm with doors opening up at 6:00 pm on Friday at The JHS Bowl located at 215 South Church Street in Jacksonville.

For those unable to attend in person, a live stream of the graduation will be available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/_aCxTsXrjdM

District 117 officials offer their congratulations to this year’s graduating class and suggests wearing lightweight clothes under your gown.