Within the next few weeks, area school districts will be wrapping up the current school year. For high school seniors, this time of year typically means scholarship banquets, award ceremonies and, of course, graduation.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, this year’s graduation ceremonies will be very different as school districts follow recently released guidelines from the Texas Education Agency to limit social gatherings while still celebrating graduating seniors.
The below information is accurate as of Tuesday, May 12 for graduation plans in the Kingsville, Bishop Consolidated, Riviera and Santa Gertrudis Independent School Districts. Any additional information will be added to this story as it becomes available.
H.M. King High School
During Monday’s regular meeting of the KISD Board of Trustees, Interim Superintendent Kamara Adams discussed holding a “hybrid” virtual graduation ceremony where seniors would be brought in and video recorded one-by-one receiving their diploma covers.
The recordings would then be cut together with footage of the valedictorian, salutatorian and administrator speeches as well as the high school’s JROTC presenting the colors and the choir performing the alma mater.
“It would air at the same time as graduation would have (been held),” Adams said.
Board trustees, however, expressed concerns about parents not being able to attend the ceremony and asked Adams to consider different options where multiple ceremonies could be held, with social distancing and other TEA restrictions, possibly at the high school’s baseball and softball fields or the FEMA domes.
“I don’t know how fast we have to do this, but I would like some options,” Board President Brandon Greenwood said.
Adams said while TEA guidelines allow for only 25 percent capacity at this time, she said holding open graduation ceremonies could be done.
“I think that is doable,” she said.
Adams said with 197 prospective graduates this year, they would probably have to split graduation into four ceremonies. She said she would provide the board further information by the end of the week.
H.M. King High School’s graduation was originally planned for June 6.
Bishop High School
Bishop High School graduates will be honored with a graduation parade scheduled for Friday, May 22 beginning at 6 p.m. Bishop CISD Superintendent Christina Gutierrez announced the parade through a video posted to social media on May 7.
“We are going to make it nice and beautiful for your child,” Gutierrez said.
More than 120 graduates will be lined up in vehicles starting at the Bishop City Park beginning at 5:30 p.m. The parade will then proceed to Bishop High School’s staff parking lot, where seniors will exit their vehicles one at a time, cross a set-up stage and receive their diplomas.
Once the student receives their diploma, parade vehicles will be able to park inside the student parking lot for the rest of the ceremony, which will include the valedictorian and salutatorian speeches. The event will also be livestreamed to social media.
Social distancing guidelines will be in place for the parade, with a limit of five guest inside the vehicle with the graduating senior. In addition, only one graduate will be allowed per vehicle unless they are graduating with a sibling.
Gutierrez said district nurses will be on-hand during line-up to check temperatures and symptoms of parade participants.
“It’s because we have to do it,” she said in the announcement video. “It’s not because we want to, but those are the guidelines at this point, so we’re going to take all precautions to make sure that everybody stays safe and healthy.”
Gutierrez said in the video announcement that the district is also planning an outdoor graduation ceremony at the BHS football field during the summer.
“There will be strict guidelines with that, if it’s even possible,” she said.
Kaufer High School
Riviera ISD’s Kaufer High School will be holding a graduation parade and ceremony on Friday, May 22. Social distancing will be enforced during the event, which includes limits on the number of people in attendance.
The parade is scheduled to start at 6 p.m., with the graduation ceremony set for 7 p.m., Riviera ISD officials said.
Additional details regarding the parade and ceremony were unavailable as of press time.
Academy High School
Santa Gertrudis ISD will hold a graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 30 at 9 a.m. inside the parking lot of the Santa Gertrudis School campus located at 803 Santa Rosa Ave.
Seniors will be seated in front of a stage while spaced six feet apart.
Family can attend, but are required to remain in their vehicles during the ceremony.
The district is allowing for only one vehicle per family, with a limit of five people per vehicle.
For those unable to attend the graduation ceremony, a livestream broadcast will be available on social media.
The ceremony will include speeches from the class valedictorian, salutatorian and other students and administration.
Additional information will be announced at a later date.