High school graduation in Billings is now a triple-header.
Graduation ceremonies for School District 2's three high schools — Senior, West and Skyview — will take place on the same day, May 26.
In the past, the district held two ceremonies on that Sunday and one on the following Monday, Memorial Day. But this year, the district switched it up.
"It does a couple of things," Superintendent Terry Bouck said. "First, it helps us save some money."
The district will save a few thousand dollars by using Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark for one day instead of two. It also cuts down on cleanup and decoration costs.
Perhaps more important, it leaves Memorial Day open for graduates, family and staff members.
In the past, each high school took a turn holding its ceremony on Memorial Day. Parents and staffers helping with the all-night sober grad parties in many cases would have to get up with everyone else Tuesday morning and go to work.
"Staff was up all night," said Kathy Olson, one of SD2's executive directors of school leadership support. "Parents had to go to work. It was hard."
Those who traveled from out of town for graduation often were left to travel back home on a work day. Moving all ceremonies to Sunday will give the out-of-towners Memorial Day to drive home.
"That makes it very nice for relatives," Olson said.
It also allows the organizers of each of the sober grad parties to share equipment and services — and even talent, saving them money. The hypnotist brought in each year now will work only one night, said Brenda Koch, executive director of school leadership support.
The ceremonies will be staggered throughout the day. Senior High is first at 10 a.m., followed by West at 2 p.m. and then Skyview at 6 p.m.
The district will rotate the schedule over the years so each high school takes a turn with each time slot.
It's the first time anyone in the district office can remember SD2 holding all three ceremonies on the same day.
"We're excited about it," Koch said.
And Sunday was the only option. High schools are still participating in sports tournaments on the Saturday before graduation, Olson said.
Condensing the ceremonies to one day also opens up the arena for other events.
"The Metra is very pleased," Olson said.