LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It was a great day for graduating students at Barbe High School yesterday.
However,its the families of some of those students that missed out on the enjoyment that a graduation brings; some driving near and far to watch their loved ones walk across the stage, yet never gaining entry into the building.
Each year, Barbe holds its commencement exercises at Burton Coliseum. A facility that is run by the state, which requires the enforcement of strict safety codes mandated by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal.
According to State Fire Marshal, H "Butch" Browning,
"In the state of Louisiana, the Burton Coliseum is a state building and those buildings are required to have certain capacities set by the state fire marshal and those capacities are based on seating, standing room, etc...all of those things that come together to develop the capacity of what a building is."
The Burton Coliseum has an occupancy limit of 6,200 people for graduation and commencement ceremonies. In regards to Barbe's graduation, Burton Complex director Jason Barnes, says that limit was already reached prior to the actual start time of graduation.
According to electronic scanners, the building had reached maximum occupancy at approximately 2:44 PM.
As a precaution, the Calcasieu Parish School Board says that parents and guardians of graduating seniors were sent at least four phone messages, via the district's calling system encouraging them to arrive well in advance of the ceremony starting. Those calls included one the night before graduation as a reminder. According to CPSB spokesman, Holly Holland.
Being that this year's class was so large, seats for those graduates were also counted for in the total occupancy number, further explaining why many may have noticed a number of empty seats throughout graduation.
According to CPSB, changes for next years graduation are being discussed, and those changes may include issuing tickets. However, any changes made will depend on student enrollment and the number of graduates anticipated for the 18-19 school year.