High schools in East Texas prepare for graduation

High schools in East Texas prepare for graduation
New Diana High School is decorating the town with support for their seniors. (Source: Mark Ferrer)

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Schools across the country are adjusting to social distancing guidelines and making plans for their high school graduations.

A typical high school graduation consists of hundreds or thousands of people gathering and students walking across a stage to get their diploma.

In the era of COVID-19, schools are having to make adjustments.

“We really wanted to do the best we can to have a physical graduation and make that as normal as possible,” said New Diana High School Principal Mark Ferrer.

After hearing the Governor’s plans to re-open Texas, New Diana High School is planning to host a “typical” graduation ceremony, but they’ve pushed the date back to June 20.

The graduation will be held at 8 p.m., at the school’s Eagle Stadium.

“When we looked at those phases, we thought June 20 would give us the most opportune time to have a physical graduation,” said Ferrer. “That’s really been the essence that we want to get as much of a normal graduation as possible.”

Palestine ISD is scheduling appointments for their students to come to the high school gym and get their diploma. Students will be recorded walking across the stage to get them and they plan on putting together one big graduation video. This is scheduled for May 13.

“There are districts out there with some really neat ideas on adjustments on how graduation would be,” said Ferrer. “Across the state, they’ve done such an amazing job and its really neat to see what some of those districts are doing and its really inspirational to us as well.”

Tyler ISD is planning to host their schedule graduations at Rose Stadium from May 20-May 23.

Rose Stadium holds 12,000 people and according to a spokesperson for the district, each school typically has around 500-600 students graduating. With a 25 or 50 percent capacity limit, they expect their numbers to be within the Governor’s guidelines.

“We’re crossing our fingers that everything is normal to where we can have a lot of people come to graduation,” said Ferrer. “But, it would still be in our best interest to continue to watch the guidelines and to make sure we’re adhering to those guidelines because we want to make sure our students and those parents coming in are safe.”

Leading up to the late graduation date for New Diana, employees from the school have surprises planned for their seniors.

One surprise took place this week. Each of the 90 graduating seniors got a personalized yard sign placed on their lawn by school employees.

“We’re thankful for the opportunity to be able to do that and knowing these are unprecedented times and always having our students heart in mind,” said Ferrer. “We’d all rather be together right now. We’re trying to take a situation that is completely not normal and make the end of the year as completely normal as we can."

Ferrer said the school is working on an alternative for students who won’t be able to make the later graduation date due to military commitments.

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