Following the top of the 2019 spring semester at Northern Illinois College, marked formally by 4 commencement ceremonies on the NIU Convocation Middle in early Might, a relative sense of calm has settled over the DeKalb campus. Lecture rooms are quiet, foot visitors is virtually non-existent and usually packed parking tons are empty.
Whereas the remainder of the NIU campus takes a deep breath awaiting the beginning of summer time faculty in mid-June and gears up for an additional faculty yr in August, the employees of the Convocation Middle is within the midst of arguably its busiest time of the yr.
“Commencement Season” on the Convocation Middle acquired underway on Friday, Might 10, with the primary of 4 NIU commencement ceremonies on Might 10 and Saturday, Might 11. In all, the power welcomed 22,000 friends, graduates and school and college directors through the 4 NIU ceremonies. By the point the final of a document 16 highschool ceremonies takes place on Sunday, June 2, greater than 100,000 individuals may have walked via the doorways of the Convocation Middle, together with the 9,000 graduates who will endlessly have the reminiscence of celebrating that essential milestone at NIU.
“Commencement season brings plenty of life to the power, to NIU and to our metropolis,” stated Heather Katkus, director of the Convocation Middle. “With greater than 100,000 individuals coming by means of the power, it’s our probability to actually showcase the Convocation Middle to the encompassing communities and to our neighbors. These occasions deliver new individuals to our space, it brings individuals on campus they usually really see what we now have right here at NIU. We have now an opportunity to point out off our campus, our facility and in addition our group.”
For the faculties, bringing its graduation ceremonies to the Convocation Middle makes the end result of years of onerous work a particular occasion for the graduates and their households, in accordance with Dr. Louis Lee, assistant superintendent for Educating and Studying for Excessive Faculty for the Indian Prairie Faculty District, which has been holding its three commencement ceremonies – on the identical day – on the Convo for the previous eight years.
“The wonderful thing about having graduation at NIU is primary, the power and quantity two, the employees,” Lee stated. “Individuals like Heather (Katkus), [Event Coordinator] Sheri (Voss) and their group make it an ideal expertise from the second we arrive to the minute we depart. They work with us on so many ranges from tickets to seating and extra. Our mother and father convey as many individuals as they need. There’s nice proximity to our college district, and the households sit up for coming to DeKalb. They go early, they frequent the companies and even keep in a single day. All of us really feel like honorary Huskies for the day.”
Whereas the 4 NIU ceremonies make for a busy weekend, commencement season on the Convocation Middle is just starting with the NIU occasions. On Friday, Might 17, the employees of the Convocation Middle welcomed the primary of 16 totally different excessive faculties’ graduates, their buddies and households to DeKalb and to NIU on the Yorkville Excessive Faculty Commencement. That was adopted by three ceremonies on Saturday, Might 18, and two extra on Sunday, Might 19. The subsequent two weekends and even mid-weeks are simply as busy. (See the entire record under.)
At a time of yr when there’s much less exercise on campus and round city with the absence of scholars, native companies and eating places profit from the inflow of tourists all through Might and into June.
“We work with the Chamber of Commerce and the DeKalb County Conference and Guests Bureau, and we ship out info to the faculties prematurely with lists of the native eating places and motels,” Katkus stated. “We all know that individuals are touring via they usually’re going to wish someplace to eat dinner or lunch or breakfast — earlier than, throughout and after the ceremonies. They could should get fuel and even cease off at a retailer or stroll round downtown. The enterprise group has the chance to succeed in out to those faculties, get them of their eating places, get them of their outlets, go stroll round downtown or reap the benefits of different group highlights.”
The NIU Convocation Middle has seen excessive faculties from all through the area maintain their graduation ceremonies within the facility because the DeKalb Excessive Faculty Class of 2005 inaugurated the custom that yr. The 16 ceremonies in 2019 matches final yr’s all-time excessive with the hometown faculty of DeKalb returning for the 15th yr.
Holding 20 ceremonies (together with the 4 NIU graduations) – every requiring particular, detailed set-up, staffing and group – over a 24-day interval is undoubtedly a problem. Katkus, an NIU alumna who has labored on the Convocation Middle since 2008 and has been the director of the power for the previous three years, stated the objective for her and the employees is to make every occasion, and every visitor, really feel valued and welcomed.
“We need to make it possible for each time our doorways open, we’re smiling, we’re greeting everyone in the very same approach we did for that first ceremony,” Katkus stated. “We need to make it possible for when every faculty is available in, they really feel they’re the one faculty. It’s ensuring all the small print are checked off, and that we’re really treating every visitor as if they’re our just one. They’re the one one which issues in that point.”
Lee stated that angle comes by way of on the day of commencement for Indian Prairie faculties.
“For many of our households, it’s their first time seeing the campus and being within the Convocation Middle, and the critiques we get from mother and father are overwhelmingly constructive,” he stated. “That is the one probability to make this present day memorable for these seniors, there are not any do-overs, and whereas the power is superb, the guts and soul of the place is the employees. If the individuals at NIU didn’t make it a fantastic expertise for our college students and households, we wouldn’t be there. [Graduation at the NIU Convocation Center] has develop into part of our tradition.”
Whereas it might sound that one commencement is very similar to the subsequent, every faculty and every ceremony will get individualized remedy from Katkus and her employees, who start to plan for commencement season in January with an preliminary planning assembly. They talk about security and safety, any modifications to the power – like the brand new scoreboard – or to the Convocation Middle’s insurance policies. Every faculty works with considered one of 4 occasion managers who’s assigned particularly to that faculty. From there, it’s about communication and particulars.
“The occasion supervisor principally does all of the legwork, they’re the liaison between our employees right here and the varsity,” Katkus stated. “They make contact with the faculties in February, undergo issues just like the timeline, tickets, parking after which the precise ceremony itself. We approve all the knowledge that goes out to the households of the graduates, so we all know that every part is correct and everyone has a great expertise once they come right here. We would like everybody to know precisely what to anticipate on that day.”
The occasion supervisor creates an in depth worksheet that’s designed to offer the Convocation Middle employees with all the knowledge they should create a flawless ceremony. A number of the areas addressed prematurely embrace the variety of graduates and tickets; whether or not the ceremony might be streamed reside or captured on video; whether or not the Convocation Middle employees must safe an indication language interpreter; if the closed captioning function on the top wall scoreboards is required; when the tickets might be printed and given to the faculties; what number of and what credentials are wanted.
There are much more particulars with regards to planning for the precise day of the ceremony because the operations employees offers with gadgets like variety of chairs for the graduates, what number of mics, whether or not there’s a guitarist, a singer, a choir, a band; what number of presenters, what number of podiums and any particular wants. The timeline consists of what time the varsity directors and graduates will arrive, what their set appears like, the place will they park and the place the scholars will go as soon as they get inside.
Now think about addressing all these particulars, altering the set-up, the chairs, the staging, the mics, the packages and extra, to not point out ensuring each area within the constructing is totally clear and safe for the subsequent faculty, 3 times in in the future.
“The doorways are set precisely the identical, and we be sure that every part is immaculate for every faculty so that each faculty that is available in has a model new clear expertise,” Katkus stated. “Apart from that, each faculty is totally different and their wants for his or her ceremonies are sometimes totally different. We’ve got faculties that solely have 150 graduates as much as 998 graduates. Usually, it takes about 50 occasion employees and safety, plus the full-time operations staff. We greet everyone, present everyone the place they should go and help the ADA visitors.”
“For us, they deal with three graduations in someday and we’re there earlier than 6 a.m. on that day and don’t depart till after 10 p.m.,” Lee stated. “I can’t say sufficient concerning the degree of service and the way we’re handled. Walt Disney stated that every visitor ought to be handled like it’s their very first time at his parks. There at NIU, it seems like a model new facility for every ceremony and the typical individual has no concept what it takes to make that occur.”
2019 Graduations on the NIU Convocation Middle
- NIU Graduate Faculty: Friday, Might 10, 6:30 p.m.
- NIU Undergraduate Faculties: Saturday, Might 11
- School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 9 a.m.
- School of Enterprise; School of Visible and Performing Arts; School of Engineering and Engineering Know-how: 1:30 p.m.
- School of Well being and Human Providers; School of Schooling: 5:30 p.m.
- Yorkville Excessive Faculty: Friday, Might 17, 6:30 p.m.
- Oswego Group Unit Faculty District: Saturday, Might 18
- Oswego, 11 a.m.
- Oswego East, three p.m.
- Huntley Excessive Faculty: Saturday, Might 18, 7:30 p.m.
- West Aurora Excessive Faculty: Sunday, Might 19, 11 a.m.
- Kaneland Excessive Faculty: Sunday, Might 19, 5 p.m.
- Batavia Excessive Faculty: Wednesday, Might 22, 7 p.m.
- East Aurora Excessive Faculty: Friday, Might 24, 7 p.m.
- DeKalb Excessive Faculty: Saturday, Might 25, 10 a.m.
- Indian Prairie Faculty District: Sunday, Might 26
- Neuqua Valley: 9:45 a.m.
- Matea Valley: 2 p.m.
- Waubonsie Valley: 6 p.m.
- Burlington Central Excessive Faculty: Wednesday, Might 29, 7 p.m.
- IMSA: Saturday, June 1, three:30 p.m.
- St. Charles Group Faculty District: Sunday, June 2
- St. Charles East, 11:30 a.m.
- St. Charles North, three:30 p.m.