OGDEN -- Dee Schenck stood sentry Monday at Dee Events Center, smiling at Bonneville High School seniors in their caps and gowns, greeting proud parents and extended families, and keeping a keen eye out for unwelcome intruders.
"We do not allow helium balloons in the facility," said Schenck, who has been on the center's events staff for about three decades.
"That's our job -- to be nice, to help and to keep helium balloons out of the facility. If they get loose, there is no way for us to get them down."
This week and next, Weber State University's Dee Events Center is scheduled for a whopping 14 graduation ceremonies, sometimes two or three a day.
Bonneville High School seniors walked at noon Monday, and Fremont High followed at 4 p.m.
Today, Weber High walks at 2 p.m., with Ben Lomond High following at 7 p.m.
On Wednesday, Roy High seniors walk at 1 p.m., with Ogden High seniors following at 5 p.m.
And at 7 p.m. Thursday, Stevens-Henagar College students walk the walk.
Next week, Davis County seniors don their caps and gowns.
On June 2, Layton High School seniors graduate at noon, Clearfield High comes at 4 p.m., and Viewmont High seniors walk at 7:30 p.m.
On June 3, graduations are Northridge High at noon, Davis High at 4 p.m. and Syracuse High at 7:30 p.m.
"Everyone who comes here is happy," Schenck said. "The kids are happy to get out. Their parents are happy the kids are getting out. When an event is happy, it makes a big difference."
Before each graduation, the Dee Events Center facility staff sets up or checks microphones and arranges flowers and banners each school has ordered in its school colors.
Event workers greet graduating seniors and their families, unobtrusively scanning them for contraband balloons, and directing guests to the table with programs, the correct entry door to the commencement/basketball arena, the gender-appropriate restroom or whatever is required.
A couple of hours later, when most guests have left the building, workers check the floor around the 11,612 built-in seats.
"We find sweaters, glasses and phones," Schenck said. "People usually come back pretty fast if they have dropped their keys."
Facility concessions are closed during graduations, which makes the sweep-up a lot easier, Schenck said. A crew gathers up dropped programs and imported gum and candy wrappers.
Then the next set of banners and flowers comes out, in the next school's colors. The process repeats again and again.
"This is what it's all about," Schenck said as Bonneville's newest graduates filed out. "It's about happy people, hugging and pictures.
"And we've got a whole half-hour before the next group arrives to set up."
Jody Lake, Dee Events Center director, said even though graduation ceremonies fall close together, they always are fun.
"We love having the kids come, and we enjoy seeing their parents there, to support them. It's really thrilling to see not only the parents but the extended family coming to celebrate. We're happy we always have enough room for everyone who wants to come."
Graduation speeches may repeat themes, but Lake said she and her crew of 30 or so event workers don't usually have time to sit down and listen. They work behind the scenes, making sure everything runs smoothly.
And the fresh faces are always new.
"It's a major milestone for these students, but it's also the beginning of the rest of their life and all the choices they will make. We never get tired of them. And it's especially exciting to know we are welcoming some of them to higher education, and many to Weber State."
To watch streaming video of graduations at Dee Events Center, visit www.weber.edu and click on link "Watch High School Graduations Ceremonies Live Online."