2021 Graduation Ceremony Information

Lincoln Public Schools has announced the dates for its 2021 high school graduation ceremonies, with a change from how they have been scheduled in the past.

The ceremonies will be held over the course of the Friday, May 28-Sunday, May 30 weekend. This is a week later than when they are traditionally held. The change was made because the State Track Meet is Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause for families but this would have been a conflict for many of our students,” said LPS Director of Secondary Education Pat Hunter-Pirtle. “By having the ceremonies a week later we can ensure that every graduate has the opportunity to experience this special moment.”

Second semester ends Thursday, May 20. Memorial Day is Monday, May 31.

All six ceremonies will be held at Pinnacle Bank Arena, also a change from years past when they have been split between PBA and the Devaney Center. The date change allows for all six high schools to access the city’s largest venue and be prepared for possible ongoing restrictions due to the pandemic.

The 2021 graduation ceremony schedule is as follows:

All times are subject to change.

Thursday, May 20th, 2021
Lincoln East High School

  • 7:00 PM – Bryan Community Focus Program

Friday, May 28, 2021
Pinnacle Bank Arena (Map)

  • 6:00 PM – Lincoln High

Saturday, May 29, 2021
Pinnacle Bank Arena (Map)

  • 8:30 AM – Lincoln Southeast
  • 12:30 PM – Lincoln Northeast
  • 4:30 PM – Lincoln Southwest

Sunday, May 30, 2021
Pinnacle Bank Arena (Map)

  • 12:00 PM – Lincoln North Star
  • 4:00 PM – Lincoln East

For All Students and Families...

  • Each student will receive six guest tickets with assigned seats. Tickets will be required for guests to enter. These tickets have been randomly assigned. Families will be able to pick up their tickets in their school’s main office on Wednesday, July 15 OR Friday, July 17 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On the day of graduation, Pinnacle Bank Arena staff will be on hand to assist any person(s) needing accommodated seating.
  • Before leaving home, if you answer yes to any of these symptoms please stay home:
    • Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Repeated muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell
  • If you, anyone in your household, or anyone you have had close contact with have recently tested positive for COVID-19, please stay home.
  • Paid parking is available in the parking garages near Pinnacle Bank Arena to the south.
  • In order to maintain a safe and secure environment, Pinnacle Bank Arena will enforce its Clear Bag Policy during Lincoln Public Schools graduation ceremonies.
  • Doors will open one hour before the ceremony. Please enter the main doors on the south side of Pinnacle Bank Arena (off R Street) and follow directions to the seating area.
  • Face coverings for students, staff, family and guests will be required.
  • Students will wear caps and gowns.
  • Students will report to the main floor 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony.
  • When students arrive, they will find their name card on their assigned chair (alphabetical order) and have a seat. Staff will be available to assist students.
  • Students, when directed, will take the card on their chair with them to the stage and hand it to the pronouncer as they enter the stage.
  • Staff will work with students prior to the ceremony on name pronunciations.
  • The in-person ceremony will be livestreamed on the Lincoln Public Schools website and the LNK TV Education Channel.

The Ceremony

  • This year’s ceremony will look different than it has in previous years as we follow the health department’s recommendations to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. There will be no live music performed, and contact between individuals will be limited to handing students their diplomas. There will not be any handshakes, hugs, elbow bumps or high fives.
  • The principal will begin the ceremony, followed by remarks from a Lincoln Board of Education member, a member of the Superintendent’s team and student speakers.
  • The principal will direct students when it is time to come to the stage to receive their diploma cover. Staff will assist students to the stage.
  • Professional pictures will be taken as students enter the stage and as students exit the stage.
  • As students finish with their photos, staff will be at nearby tables to hand students their graduation packets that contain their diploma and awards.
  • Students will return to their assigned seats.
  • At the end of the ceremony, the principal will give directions for students to dismiss starting from the back of the seating area. Students will continue until they’ve exited the building.
  • To help with reducing the amount of congestion and help with physical distancing, families and guests will dismiss from the back and top rows first.
  • We suggest each family plan a location to meet their child outside after the ceremony.

Clear Bag Policy In Effect

In order to maintain a safe and secure environment, Pinnacle Bank Arena and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln share a common Clear Bag Policy which will be enforced during Lincoln Public School graduations.

Clear plastic bag

Appropriate Dress

Participating seniors must wear the traditional graduation gowns, caps and tassels. We would like all students to dress appropriately for a dignified ceremony.

  • Tassels will be worn over the right eye.  Mortarboards are to be worn with the flat surface horizontal.
  • Please leave purses or bags at home, or your clear bag with your family.
  • Nuisance items (e.g. sunglasses) will not be allowed in the arena.
  • Keep your mortarboards and gowns neat. No writing or taping will be allowed.
  • Multilayered face coverings will be required.


Distracting and discourteous behavior will not be tolerated. We request that family members and students leave air horns and other noisemakers, balloons and other items which might cause a distraction at home. Seniors who do not wish to abide by these expectations should not plan to attend the ceremony, which has always been optional. If a student is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he/she will be ticketed by the police and will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony.

Watch a pre-recorded virtual ceremony on 10/11’s MeTV Channel

In addition to the in-person ceremonies, pre-recorded virtual ceremonies featuring every LPS Class of 2020 graduate and scheduled speakers will air on Sunday, July 26, on 10/11’s MeTV channel.

The pre-recorded virtual graduations will follow the original graduation schedule:

  • Northeast High School at 12:00 p.m. (noon)
  • Southwest High School at 1:30 p.m.
  • East High School at 3:00 p.m.
  • North Star High School at 4:30 p.m.
  • Southeast High School at 6:00 p.m.
  • Lincoln High School at 7:30 p.m.

For Ceremonies at Bob Devaney Sports Center

1600 Court Street

There is parking north the Devaney SportsCenter off of Transformation Drive. You can reach this lot from Transformation Drive via N. Antelope Valley Parkway (traveling north or south), or (from the northeast part of Lincoln) via 27th Street and Salt Creek Roadway, take a right (turn north) onto North 21st, then to Transformation Drive (headed west). Please bring your patience and allow for time to wait in line to park.

Students should enter through the doors at Gate 10. This is where the graduation staging area will take place prior to the ceremony. First, visit one of the main tables to pick up the card with your name on it (or write your name on a card provided). It should read exactly how you want it said during the ceremony. Put on your cap and gown, and begin to line up in the processional line in the designated area.

Please enter the main doors on the north side (same side as the parking lot). Families walk up the ramp. Those needing handicap assistance should take the pathway just to the right (west) of the main ramp to the lower level where people will be waiting to assist you.

For Ceremonies at Pinnacle Bank Arena

400 Pinnacle Arena Drive

Paid parking is available in the parking garages near Pinnacle Bank Arena to the south.

Students are asked to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the start of their respective graduation. Please plan parking and walking to the site to avoid being late. Enter through the main entrance off of R Street and follow the signs to the area behind the stage. Pick up your alphabetized name cards (or write your name on a card provided). It should read exactly how you want it said during the ceremony. Put on your cap and gown, and begin to line up in the processional line in the designated area.

Please enter the main doors on the south side of Pinnacle Bank Arena (off of R Street) and follow directions to the seating area. This entrance has accommodations for those needing handicap assistance. Bags may be searched upon entry, and no balloons are allowed.

Graduation Tips

For those attending, here are some tips to help ensure you fully enjoy the event:

  • Be patient. This works with the actual graduation ceremony and all the activities surrounding it:  Friends and family who want those extra pictures, drivers who want in your lane, students who take too long to get ready, and so forth.
  • Traffic could be busy and slow in the downtown areas. Give yourself plenty of time to get to, park and walk to the venue. Doors open one hour prior to the ceremony
  • Identify the best parking places and directions to them (especially those one-way streets).
  • Likewise, arriving too soon could create additional slowdowns as traffic leaving the venue might not have left suitable parking spots. So find the right balance.
  • Enjoy! This is a once-in-a-lifetime event for our graduating seniors.