Houston ISD seniors will still get to celebrate their graduation with a plan announced Wednesday by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and several superintendents in the region, including HISD’s Grenita Lathan. A news release described it as “a first-of-its-kind citywide outdoor celebration” in which seniors will go to their home campuses in their caps and gowns on the evening of Friday, June 5.
HISD said details are still being finalized, but the celebration might include elements such as students simultaneously singing a popular song, viewing pre-recorded messages by local, national and global celebrities, and taking group photos by drone.
The celebration is being planned by the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, which stages large productions like Freedom Over Texas and the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The ceremony is not a commencement and no diplomas will be issued to students during the event, which is for students and faculty only. Family members will not be able to accompany their students.
Social distancing measures will be in effect with graduates instructed to remain at least 6 feet apart and wear face coverings. During picture-taking, masks may be removed briefly.
“On behalf of the HISD Board of Education, our high school principals and approximately 11,000 graduates, we thank the mayor and the City of Houston for planning this wonderful event for the Class of 2020, which has not been able to engage in traditional celebrations due to COVID-19 precautions,” Lathan said.
The event will be broadcast on-air and online by HISD TV and the city’s HTV channel and may also be shown by local television stations.
The citywide event will also include graduating seniors from neighboring school districts in the Houston area who will assemble at their high schools.
NRG Stadium, Minute Maid Park, Dynamo Stadium, TDECU Stadium at the University of Houston and Rice Stadium may be used by some schools as celebration venues.
“We want to have an event that creates a collective memory for our seniors and recognizes their accomplishments,” Turner said. “This will be a special experience befitting our students who have sacrificed so much as they close out their last year of high school.”