Graduation season has arrived in Polk County.

Local public high schools will be taking over the Jenkins Arena at the RP Funding Center and other venues for five days to honor about 5,800 students who are graduating this year.

Students with special needs from the Doris Sanders, Jean O’Dell and Karen Siegel Learning Centers kicked off this year’s celebrations on Saturday morning at the Lake Region High School auditorium.

The pace picks up on Friday as Lakeland High School’s class of 2023 receives their diplomas and moves their tassels from right to left in a ceremony starting at noon at the RP Funding Center. Seniors from its sister school, Harrison School for the Arts, will cross the stage next at 3 p.m. followed by Lake Gibson Senior High students at 7 p.m.

In all, there will be 23 graduation ceremonies for Polk County Public Schools, 14 of them at the RP Funding Center.

Tickets are required for family and friends attending the ceremonies at the RP Funding Center, but seating is not assigned. Instead, seating will be general admission and on a first-come, first-served basis.

Knowing the importance of this event and that some family members may not be able to attend in person, the ceremonies taking place in the RP Funding Center Jenkins Arena will be livestreamed on the PCPS YouTube channel.

PCPS asks that “all guests are respectful during the entire ceremony, specifically during presentation of diplomas to ensure all graduates receive their moment of recognition.”  In addition, officials remind both graduates and guests that “graduation is a formal ceremony. Any inappropriate action observed during the ceremony may result in immediate removal from the venue.”

Each school has been assigned a specific parking lot in order to keep the schedule running on time, allowing for all guests to enter and exit the building in an efficient manner. See the PCPS website for information on parking lots assigned to your school.

Guests planning on sitting together should arrange to meet outside of the venue and enter together. Seat saving is not permitted. People will not be allowed to exit and then re-enter the building. The graduation schedule is as follows:

SchoolDayDateTimeLocationTo be livestreamed?
Doris Sanders, Jean O’Dell, Karen SiegelSaturdayMay 1310 a.m.Lake Region High AuditoriumYes (Link)
Lakeland Senior HighFridayMay 19NoonRP Funding CenterYes (LSH Link)
Harrison School for the ArtsFridayMay 193 p.m.RP Funding CenterYes (HSA Link)
Frostproof Middle-SeniorFridayMay 196 p.m.Faris Brannen Stadium, FrostproofNo
Lake Gibson Senior HighFridayMay 197 p.m.RP Funding CenterYes (LGSH Link)
Roosevelt AcademyFridayMay 197 p.m.Roosevelt Academy GymnasiumNo
Fort Meade Middle-SeniorSaturdayMay 208 a.m.Emory C. Lamb StadiumNo
Auburndale Senior HighSaturdayMay 209 a.m.Bruce Canova StadiumNo
Haines City Senior High/IBSaturdayMay 209 a.m.RP Funding CenterYes (HCSH Link)
Davenport HighSaturdayMay 201 p.m.RP Funding CenterYes (DHS Link)
Ridge Community HighSaturdayMay 205 p.m.RP Funding CenterYes (RCHS Link)
Kathleen Senior HighMondayMay 22NoonRP Funding CenterYes (KSH Link)
Mulberry Senior HighMondayMay 223 p.m.RP Funding CenterYes (MSH Link)
George W. Jenkins Senior HighMondayMay 227 p.m.RP Funding CenterYes (GJSH Link)
Tenoroc HighTuesdayMay 23NoonRP Funding CenterYes (THS Link)
Lake Region HighTuesdayMay 233 p.m.RP Funding CenterYes (LRHS Link)
Gause Academy of LeadershipTuesdayMay 235 p.m.Bartow Elementary Academy AuditoriumNo
Winter Haven Senior HighTuesdayMay 237 p.m.RP Funding CenterYes (WHSH Link)
Ridge & Traviss Technical Colleges
(East Area and West Area Adult Schools)
WednesdayMay 24NoonRP Funding CenterYes (Link)
Polk Virtual & Polk Grad AcademyWednesdayMay 242 p.m.Florida Southern College Branscomb AuditoriumNo
Bartow/IB/SummerlinWednesdayMay 245 p.m.RP Funding CenterYes (Link)
Fresh Start – Bartow/ LakelandWednesdayMay 246 p.m.Harrison School for the Arts AuditoriumNo
Fresh Start – Winter HavenWednesdayMay 246 p.m.Davenport High School AuditoriumNo

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Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at or 863-272-9250.

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