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Stabler Arena Hosts 13 Commencement Ceremonies

Stabler draws more than 40,000 in 13 commencement ceremonies for local
high schools.

In a two-week period every June, a vast cross section of Lehigh Valley high
school seniors assemble at Stabler Arena for a right of passage – Graduation.
This June, the arena hosted thirteen commencement ceremonies for local high schools.

Rich Fritz, director of Stabler Arena says, “It started with Freedom High School
almost 25 years ago and other schools just followed suit.” Rich explains that Stabler
has been the choice for most schools simply because of convenience. Ample seating and
parking, air conditioning, and relief from uncertain weather all play major roles in
why area high schools use Stabler. “Most schools would like to do graduation outside
but are faced with the dilemma of inclement weather. Schools that have outside commencements
usually have to set up a second ceremony area somewhere inside, which costs a lot of extra
money.” Rich judges that schools save money by using Stabler.

Stabler Arena personnel contact local high schools sometime in January with opportunities
to reserve dates. Available dates are those left over after Lehigh athletics and large
events such as concerts are already booked. “Most years it’s fairly uncomplicated to find dates
for all of the schools, but sometimes it can be a challenge,” Rich says. He remembers in 1996,
with heavy snowfall and school years running late, everyone scrambled to change dates at the
last minute. “We ended up keeping the same schedule but sliding all of the dates back evenly.
Cooperation and flexibility are the keys to date selection.”

Stabler has had inquiries from as far as New Hope and New Jersey for high school commencement
ceremonies. Annually, commencements draw more than 40,000 people to Stabler, 6,000 of them being
the graduates themselves. “It says a lot about Stabler. It’s a credit to our facility, and to Lehigh,
for being so accommodating and welcoming.” Rich continues, “I can’t tell you how many people come
up to me and say, ‘Oh, I graduated from Stabler in such and such a year!’”

Brynn Buskirk