MODESTO — Bands will be serenading seniors with "Pomp and Circumstance" next week across Modesto. Families have hair appointments to make, parties to arrange and graduation tickets to mete out like precious gold. Craigslist posts already offer $20 to $50 each for tickets that seniors get for free.
For some parents, particularly those with lots of branches on the family tree, there just aren't enough tickets to go around.
Beyer parent Darcy Van Deelen said she and her ex both have remarried and need more than the allotted seven tickets just for immediate family to watch their daughter graduate. Van Deelen said she's heard students will pass on free tickets they don't need for a price.
"I asked my daughter again just now. She confirms it is happening now and not only that, but it has occurred in the past years as well," Van Deelen said.
On Craigslist.org, Beyer buyers say they are willing to pay $50 a ticket. Downey High ticketseekers are offering $20, the same price bid for La Loma Junior High tickets.
A woman who would give her name only as Jennifer said she posted on Craigslist because she wanted to see her best friend's kids graduate from Downey and La Loma. "I just really want to see them graduate. I've been there for everything," she said, but with the kids' five siblings, parents and grandparents, she knew there would be no ticket for her.
No listings appeared by sellers, but few seniors have their tickets yet. Schools generally give out the free tickets at graduation practices the week of the event.
Beyer Principal Dan Park said the ticket limit boils down to simple math. John Thurman Field has room for 3,500, divided by 500 graduates expected to walk May 23, he said via email. Beyer Patriots get four blue tickets and three red tickets, Park said. All the tickets work at the stadium, but if it rained, the event would move indoors and red ticketholders would be out of luck, he said.
Time's short at Beyer
Beyer staff members hand out tickets at practice the day before, limiting the time any could be sold or lost, ruined or eaten by pets. Park said he'd never known a student to sell tickets, but added that he didn't know of any rule against it.
Downey High School will give out six graduation tickets to each graduate, filling its 2,500-seat stadium. Principal Richard Baum said the tickets have printing safeguards to avoid being reproduced.
High schools in Turlock use numbered tickets to avoid duplication, Turlock Unified Superintendent Sonny Da Marto said. Students get no more than seven tickets, in part to keep crowd size manageable, he said.
"The key for us is the administration goes out to each senior English class and spends an hour talking with the kids about every aspect of graduation, including the ticket angle. This takes the administration about two weeks straight in April, but it's always been worth the time and effort," Da Marto said.
At Turlock's Pitman High, which has no stadium, Principal Rod Hollars said graduates get six tickets to keep families from having to stand too far back to see.
"We have never had any problems with 'scalping,' and this goes back to 1992 at Turlock High," Hollars said, adding that the school encourages seniors to share extra tickets with classmates.
Patterson High seniors get five, but can earn additional tickets with perfect attendance, no fines, no discipline issues and attending senior parent meetings, said Patterson Joint Unified Superintendent Philip Alfano.
"We put in added security measures several years ago and don't allow backpacks, balloons, etc., into the stadium. We ban noisemakers as well, although a few always seem to make their way in," Alfano said.
Ceres Unified high schools give seniors 10 tickets each, as does Waterford High.
In Waterford, graduates can get two additional tickets if a parent attends sen-ior orientation night. But even at double the Modesto number, Waterford Unified Superintendent Don Davis said, "There are always demands by some for more tickets."
Room in Newman
Newman-Crows Landing Superintendent Ed Felt said Orestimba High's stadium has plenty of space for families.
Oakdale High, too, has open seating. "First come, first serve, and we do provide standing room," said Oakdale Unified Superintendent Marc Malone.