Dover High hopes for passing grade for graduation traffic, parking

DOVER — Dover High School Principal Dr. Courtney Voshell had three simple words to describe the traffic and parking situation at the Senators’ graduation last year: “What a mess.”

This year, Dr. Voshell and school officials, along with the Dover Police Department, are taking a forward-thinking approach toward making traffic flow and parking much easier for this year’s graduation ceremony, which will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday at Dover High School’s stadium on Del. 8.

Courtney Voshell

Courtney Voshell

“We are just trying to be proactive in making sure that our graduates and their immediate family have priority on campus,” Dr. Voshell said, “and then allowing others the opportunity to park nearby in the Leander Lakes apartment complex parking lot [behind the school on Dover High Drive] and the Destiny Christian Church parking lot [at 2161 Forrest Ave.]”

For the first time, Dover High School will have satellite parking that will feature shuttle buses running to and from the Pitts Recreation Center at Schutte Park, at 10 Electric Ave.

The buses will leave every 15 minutes starting at 4:30 p.m. and will begin the return trip following the ceremony. Bus riders must have graduation tickets.

“The kids get all worked up about it but the reality is we want to guarantee our graduates are going to be able to park on campus with their family,” Dr. Voshell said. “Each graduate will have two parking passes and we’ll have a parking team ready to go.

“We will start parking cars between 4 and 4:30 and our plan is to fill up the access road and the lot behind the stadium first, close that down, and then kind of fill in from there. Once it’s full, it’s full.”

Dr. Voshell said the school has been working with Dover Police Lt. Christopher Hermance in developing a traffic plan.

It is a necessity considering there are 940 parking places at Dover High School and last year’s graduation attracted around 2,500 cars.

There will be nearly 400 students who will comprise the Senators’ 115th graduating class on Thursday night and each one will be allotted up to 10 tickets.

Hence, the added preparation.

“We’re going to have officers working graduation,” said Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman, Dover police spokesman. “Obviously, car pool if you can, be patient and leave early to get there in time.

“That road is a little weird because it’s Route 8 and it’s a busy road and there’s only one road in and out of the high school. I think we’ll have a handle on it. There will probably still be some headaches here and there but we’re going to try to be as efficient and safe as possible.”

School officials offered some suggestions for alternate routes, including taking Hazlettville Road to the Pitts Center for satellite parking. Those parking at Destiny Christian Church should take Hazlettville Road to Rose Valley Road (make a right) then a right on Forrest Avenue, continuing until reaching the church on the right side.

Dr. Voshell said it might all appear to be a headache but it won’t be able to override the excitement of graduation night.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “It’s nerve-racking for me because you want everything to go well and there could be anything that will be beyond my control in that moment in time. But it’s exciting. This is the day everybody has been waiting for.”

Weather considerations

In the event of inclement weather, the graduation ceremony will take place inside the school’s main gymnasium.

Should that occur, four of the 10 tickets given to each graduate will be for entrance to the gym. Graduates will be notified by phone of any change in plans, which will be posted on the school’s website by 10 a.m. Thursday.

Dover High will offer a live stream of the graduation in the theater in both venues — stadium or gymnasium. A ticket is required for all guests at all areas.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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