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Graduations Leave Durham Students, Parents Steaming

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DURHAM — All five Durham County High Schools held graduations at Cameron Indoor Stadium between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday atDuke University.

One of the hottest spots in the Triangle was theSouthern High Schoolgraduation, which began at 1:30 p.m. Cameron has no air conditioning, and all 2,000 people at the ceremony suffered because of the heat.

Perspiring parents and sweaty Southern High seniors tried to cool themselves off with graduation programs, but it did not work.

"I'm very wet, hot, thankful and glad to be here, but hot," said Warren Gentry, father of a graduate.

Even in winter, hot and humid Cameron Indoor is like a sixth man wearing down Duke's basketball opponents. Wednesday, it wore out at least two people.

One woman fainted and had to be taken away on a stretcher. Another woman faded slowly and was help into a chair.

Ken Chancellor, an uncle of a graduate, had to step outside. "It's suffocating, it's very warm in there, very close," he said. "We didn't realize until we got here that Cameron Indoor Stadium was not air-conditioned."

The temperature inside was around 99 degrees, but the graduates thought that figure was a little low.

"It's like 130 degrees," says graduate Kristen Frye. "It felt really, really hot in there. People were blowing fans and we were using our programs to try to get cool, but it didn't work very well."

"I'm not angry, I just wish they could make some improvement," says Freda Baptist, mother of a graduate. "They could at least put in air during events like this."

Duke is in the process of installing air conditioning, and should be finished by next year's graduation.