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Starlight Theatre will be venue for MCC commencement May 13

February 14, 2021
By Tim Engle

Starlight Theatre

EDITOR'S NOTE: After this article was published, MCC officials decided that graduates could bring up to two guests each to the 2021 commencement ceremony. Read our most recent story. Get more information at

Metropolitan Community College's 2021 commencement ceremony will be outdoors at Starlight Theatre, with plenty of room for participating grads and faculty to spread out.

It's the first major MCC event to be held face-to-face since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Kansas City in March 2020. The trade-off in this case is that students will not be allowed to bring guests to commencement, although the program will be livestreamed (and recorded) for family and friends to watch.

Commencement at the venerable outdoor theater in Swope Park is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 13, with a rain date of May 14.

"Having commencement in person for 2021 is signaling that we're trying to move forward through the pandemic while also being safe," says Chris Shobe, MCC director of student success.

"We know last year's graduates were disappointed that they were not able to have an in-person event. We're excited to bring our graduates back together for an in-person celebration."

In years past, about 1,000 candidates for graduation would take part in MCC commencement at Municipal Auditorium downtown. This year, organizers are expecting about 1,500 people in all — grads, speakers and some employees. Starlight Theatre, in normal times, can seat about 8,000 people for Broadway-style shows and other events.

As previously announced, grads of the Class of 2020 are also invited to take part in this year's ceremony. MCC commencement in June 2020 was a virtual event. MCC holds one commencement ceremony each year, in the spring.

Some details about this year's commencement are still being worked out, but students will not be marching together in an opening processional. Instead, when they arrive at Starlight, they will be ushered to their seats for safe social distancing. The usual pre-ceremony reception for students has been scrapped.

Free caps and gowns will be included in the "grad bags" students can pick up on campuses the week of April 19. Graduating students and 2020 grads will receive emails with commencement details. More info is also available at