Houston ISD will hold virtual graduation ceremonies for all of its high schools, the district announced Monday morning in an email to parents.
Heights, Scarborough, Waltrip and Booker T. Washington are the area high schools within HISD, which said it will begin its virtual ceremonies Sunday, June 14. The district said it is partnering with Herff Jones, a company that specializes in graduations and graduation accessories, to conduct the online ceremonies while utilizing technology by StageClip and MarchingOrder.
HISD said the virtual ceremonies will included recorded messages from interim superintendent Grenita Lathan and other district officials as well as audio of each student’s name as their personalized slide is displayed. As a gift, graduates also will receive their own personalized content they can share on social media.
Seniors will soon be contacted by their schools with details about how their information will be collected for the virtual ceremonies.
Lathan wrote in her letter that virtual graduations are the “safest option” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused HISD to close all its campuses in mid-March. Every school in Texas must remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year per an executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
“The decision to hold virtual graduation ceremonies has been perhaps the most difficult decision I have ever confronted as the district leader,” Lathan wrote. “However, I know that our amazing graduates will look back on these celebrations knowing that each of them was a part of history.”
HISD also is participating in a citywide initiative, spearheaded by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, to recognize graduating seniors. On June 5, all seniors are encouraged to go to their campuses in caps and gowns for a simultaneous citywide celebration.
HISD said the June 5 plan for its seniors is to gather outside on football fields, lawns or in stadium bleachers in order to practice social distancing. The event, which is only for seniors and faculty and not for their families, is optional. HISD those who attend must wear masks, which will be provided.
“Details are still being finalized by city officials, but the celebration might include elements such as students simultaneously singing a popular song and viewing pre-recorded messages by celebrities,” Lathan wrote in her letter.