DENVER (KDVR) — The late-season winter storm is forcing school districts across the metro area to make last-minute venue changes for high school graduation ceremonies. 

Friday, Red Rocks Amphitheatre was scheduled to host graduation ceremonies for Evergreen, Chatfield and Columbine High Schools. However, only Evergreen went ahead with their original plans. 

“This is very Colorado. This is about Colorado in a nutshell,” Evergreen graduate Michael Robinson said. 

At the beginning of their ceremony, the weather was cold and drizzly. By the end, it was a full-on snowfall. 

“Everyone is trying to look nice because it is a formal event but at this point kind of scrapped all that and said be warm,” Robinson said.

At times, the snow was so thick it became difficult for families to see their students walk across the stage. 

“It really felt apparent that the weather conditions today made more sense for the schools to come to an indoor facility,” said Tad Bowman, venue director for both Red Rocks and the Denver Coliseum. 

According to Bowman, Chatfield and Columbine both made the decision to switch from Red Rocks to the indoor Denver Coliseum around 7 p.m. Thursday night. 

“It’s not quite the same experience as Red Rocks but we will still make it happen for them,” Bowman said.

‘Much warmer than we would be at Red Rocks’

The Coliseum already had a graduation setup ready to go after hosting a different graduation ceremony Thursday night. It also is a big enough facility to handle the number of family members expecting to attend at Red Rocks. 

“Red Rocks and the Coliseum have roughly the same capacity and then for the school sizes we have for today, it fits within the setup that we have today,” Bowman said. 

Both families and faculty from Chatfield High School largely agreed with the move. 

“Much warmer than we would be at Red Rocks,” grandmother Jana Pierson said. 

“We’re definitely a lot warmer than we would have been sitting up there in the snow, that’s for sure,” Chatfield teacher David Bell said. 

The Class of 2022 agreed too. 

“I figured it just makes sense. It’s kind of windy. It’s kind of rainy. It doesn’t seem like fun to be outside all day,” Samuel Rowland said.

Still, disappointment at missing the Red Rocks stage

However, many students, parents and school staff also expressed disappointment at not being able to participate in the tradition of walking across the stage at Red Rocks. 

“Just being up there at Red Rocks on the same stage as some of the bands that might be your favorite and all these people, that’s gotta be a phenomenal feeling seeing those bleachers in front of you with all your friends and family there,” Bell said. 

Several other area school districts made similar decisions to switch from outdoor to indoor venues including at school gymnasiums, indoor facilities at Denver Botanic Gardens and the National Western Stock Show Complex. 

“But I think in the end it’s all about the graduation and being done with high school finally so they’ll still remember the goods and forget about the bit of a different venue,” Bell said. 

According to Denver Arts and Venues, graduation has been moved due to poor weather conditions from Red Rocks to indoor facilities like the Denver Coliseum about three times in the last 30 years.

Full Pinpoint Weather coverage

On TV and online, the Pinpoint Weather Team will keep you updated with the latest forecast for Denver and Colorado. Be sure to download the free Pinpoint Weather App to stay up-to-date with the newest data as it comes in. Stay tuned to FOX31 and Channel 2 for live team coverage throughout the storm.

Do you have questions about this late-season winter storm? The Pinpoint Meteorologist Team holds frequent Ask a Met segments on FOX31 NOW.

You can submit a question during our live broadcasts, or on Twitter using #AskAMet. Another way to ask your questions is by emailing