Anna ISD unveiled tentative plans for a drive-in graduation.
The proposed event would take place on the original graduation date and time, 7 p.m. May 22, at the Anna High School parking lot.
The plan must be approved by both the Texas Education Agency and Gov. Greg Abbott. The district expects to receive an answer from both by May 4.
“Due to the continued restrictions around large gatherings, a traditional graduation ceremony is looking less likely will into the month of August,” Anna ISD Public Relations Officer Melane Woodbury said. “We understand that not all students will be in town for an August graduation. Therefore the district would prefer not to postpone the graduation ceremony.”
Woodbury added that the district was doing all that it could to preserve as many of the traditional elements as possible.
Under the drive-in proposal, each graduating senior would be allowed to bring as many people as could legally fit in their car. Limousines, RV’s and other oversized vehicles will not be allowed.
Graduates will be able to exit their vehicle to walk across a stage and receive their diploma. The entire event would be broadcast on a special live-stream FM radio frequency.
The valedictorian and salutatorian, as well as school staff, will still address the audience. Students will be allowed to decorate their vehicles so long as there is no vulgarity. Instead of the traditional hat toss there will likely be a lively horn-honking celebration.
Some families have expressed disappointment and even anger at not having a traditional graduation ceremony.
However, several students set to join the military shorty after graduations would not get to experience graduation if it were held on a later date. Many others will be off to college before summer’s end.
Ultimately district officials decided that having a non-traditional ceremony, while not ideal, would give the most number of Anna High School seniors a chance to gather together for a final celebration even if they will be in their cars.
Melissa ISD is still finalizing its graduation plans.
Melissa High School principal Kenneth Wooten has been working with a committee of parents and staff to consider multiple options.
Superintendent Keith Murphy said he has been keeping in contact with Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath to stay abreast of the last COVID-19- related guidelines.
Murphy has also spoken with his counterparts at other school districts to compare best practices.
“Our goal is to sometime in July have a physical graduation,” Murphy said. “But in the interim, depending on the state and where they are in allowing us to have a physical graduation, we’re putting together a virtual graduation.”
Plans are also in the works for a senior parade. Additional details should be released by May 1.
According to Murphy, this is the most unique challenge he’s faced over the course of his 30-year career.
While certainly a difficult situation, he also sees it as an opportunity for Melissa to evolve and create something new. He says the community has been very supportive, something for which he is extremely grateful.
“This also proves just what heroes our teachers are,” he said. “They absolutely are the heroes of the modern day. They’re just great.”