When Gov. Greg Abbott announced last month that school would continue to happen from a distance for the rest of the academic year, many high school seniors immediately wanted to know – what does this mean for graduation?
It’s a subject that districts have been discussing for weeks, and many are finally ready to roll out plans for commencement exercises that don’t involve crowds, encourage social distancing, and can be easily deployed.
And in the case of Dallas ISD, the walk will be more symbolic, and virtual – the district is opting to hold all 37 ceremonies virtually, beginning May 22.
Although details will vary slightly from school to school, the district said students should receive information for their campus, along with information on picking up their cap and gown, from their principal by next week.
For Lori Foster, who has a senior graduating from W.T. White this year, the news was not exactly surprising.
“I felt like it was inevitable but just wanted to know for sure,” she said shortly after the district made the announcement. “I prefer this option to having to wait until later in the year to possibly be able to have a normal one.”
At Hillcrest High, parents have banded together to form a Sign-Up Genius campaign that allows community members to “adopt a senior,” pledging to purchase a care package for a senior.
“Each senior will remember their adopter as the ray of sun in the storm, forever,” organizers said. “They will remember the letdowns and the dashed hopes with a sigh, but they will remember being adopted with a smile.”
For most seniors, the walk across the stage to pick up a diploma is the final rite of passage in a flurry of end-of-school festivities. This year, seniors have had to forgo proms, final athletic seasons, and other traditions after the novel coronavirus pandemic forced school districts across the country to online or distance learning options.
The district said it will try to make each event special, even though it will not be what anyone anticipated when they began the school year last August.
“Efforts will be made to maintain as much of the traditional ceremony as possible,” the district announced Wednesday afternoon. “In addition, all 8,900 seniors will receive customized banners to display at home that recognize them as members of their high school’s Class of 2020.”
The community is also being asked to step outside Thursday, May 21, for a district-wide ovation for the class of 2020 from 7 p.m. to 7:10 p.m.