Area seniors will have the ability to walk the stage in front of their families commemorating their completion of high school.
Following a recent announcement from Gov. Greg Abbott permitting graduation ceremonies to take place all throughout the state, the staff from Navarro ISD, Marion ISD and Lifegate Christian School have announced their plans for in-person graduation ceremonies, albeit with social distancing measures in place.
Navarro High School sets June 26 graduation date
The students of Navarro High School will don their purple caps and gowns and walk the big stage next month to receive their diplomas on June 26 at Erwin Lee Field.
Navarro ISD Superintendent Dee Carter said the decision to host an in-person graduation was an easy one to make.
“It’s what the kids want, it’s what the families want, and we are able to do that outside now under the governor's rules,” she said. “If things change, we do have a backup of having a virtual graduation if either the weather prohibits us from being outside or if the COVID-19 spikes and rules change, then we will be ready to accommodate for that.”
The ceremony will include all 138 of the school’s graduates who will receive four tickets for their family members to attend, Carter said.
“Each family grouping of four will be spaced,” Carter said. “We’ll be marking the seats in the stadium, people will be seated on both sides, both the home side and the visitor side and they will be assigned to a side, and they will have to come into the stadium in a very orderly and spaced fashion and sit in areas that are clearly marked so that one small family group is six to eight feet apart from the next family group. We have carefully measured the stadium and know that we can accommodate that and will be marking the seating appropriately.”
Although attending graduation is not a requirement for students, the excitement for a personal send off is palpable, Carter said.
“From the response that I have gotten so far, people are very pleased that we’re planning to have a live graduation,” Carter said. “Of course, it is voluntary on the students’ and families’ part, no one is ever required to participate in the graduation ceremony. [It’s] essentially a social event. The students who have fulfilled the requirements of the state and the school district will receive a diploma regardless of whether they participate, but I anticipate that most, if not all, of our graduates, will be there.”
To limit person-to-person contact, the class will not meet for a graduation rehearsal in addition to several other precautionary measures, Carter said.
“The graduating class will line up at a social distance on the practice field and march in at appropriate social distance and be seated at a distance. Everything will be limited, normally we have up to 15 people on the stage, and we clearly won’t have that,” Carter said. “We will be asking people to self-screen but to sign and verify that they have no symptoms before they enter the stadium. Safety is number one, but we’re planning [to] have a beautiful graduation celebration in person, and be in line with healthy rules.”
Parents can expect further information and their admission tickets to be sent “very soon,” Carter said.
Bulldogs to walk the stage at Veteran’s Stadium
Marion’s seniors are seeing a change in venue for their final walk across the stage.
The Bulldogs will graduate from their home field on June 6 with an in-person graduation, Marion High School principal Staci Schneider said.
“All along, our goal was to have an in-person ceremony for our kids,” she said. “We’re excited that it is looking like we’ll have an in-person graduation.”
The district originally planned for a possible graduation ceremony at the end of June — with a back up date at the end of July — for an in-person ceremony at Seguin High School’s Goldie Harris Gym.
But with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent announcements, he said districts would have the opportunity to host live graduation ceremonies with social distancing measures in place.
Schneider said she presented a couple of options to the seniors and their parents that included the later ceremony indoors, or the earlier event outdoors. They chose the later, she said.
For Marion, that includes limiting the number of family members per senior.
“It is not a public event, it is by ticket only,” Schneider said. “Seniors will get tickets and the people their family has chosen to attend will get to come.”
Because of some social distancing guidelines in place, there will not be a rehearsal prior to the event, nor will the band get to perform, Schneider said.
Lifegate set for May graduation ceremony
Students at Lifegate Christian School will walk the stage this month celebrating the end of their high school careers.
The graduates will take their final stroll on Friday, May 29 on the school’s football field.
“We’ll have a long procession, and we’re coming from what we call the big gym — one of the back doors opens up into the football field,” Lifegate Christian School Principal Mark Peters said. “It’s gonna be a good little walk, so we’ll be playing ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ a little longer than usual.”
Although Lifegate Christian School has opted for an in-person graduation, safety precautions are still a top priority, with social distancing and face masks encouraged, Peters said.
The walk is a closed event, and each graduating student will have 15 tickets to allocate to family members only, Peters said.
“We don’t expect any more than that, and we can accomplish that social distancing with staff on the field and the graduates on the field, along with siblings and parents on the field, and then grandparents, uncles, aunts and things like that will be up in the stands. We’re also allowing families to sit together without social distancing.”
Friends and family who cannot make the graduation can watch the event live on the school’s Facebook page, Peters said.
“Also one of the things that we can do because we’re a small school … we have a senior video where it takes the kids from infancy on up with pictures, and we give a couple minutes for each kid,” Peters said. “We’ve still got that, but we’re just putting it on our Facebook page for everyone to view.”
The entire event will be held outdoors, including the senior tables, which are usually hosted in the fellowship hall, Peters said.
“We were hoping that we could do graduation traditionally, and we always have graduation in the church sanctuary, and then we go into the fellowship halls for the reception afterwards, so we were disappointed that we weren’t able to have that,” Peters said. “I’ve told the seniors, ‘we just got to look at it with the glass half full. This is a unique situation. It’s not like every other graduation, and you guys are going to remember it and everybody else will too because of it.’”