DALLAS — A Dallas-based company is stepping up during the coronavirus pandemic to make sure graduations still happen, even if "virtual" is the only current way to do so.
Varsity Brands is a fixture in all things school, sports, and graduation related.
"I guess necessity is the mother of invention," said Adam Blumenfeld, CEO of Varsity Brands.
The company includes BSN Sports uniforms and equipment, Varsity Spirit cheerleader uniforms and competitions, and Herff Jones, the leading provider of class rings and other school achievement products.
"They've spent four years working for the most important day of their lives," Blumenfeld said of 2020 high school and college graduates. "And it's our job to help them celebrate."
Varsity Brands will do that this year by providing a virtual graduation experience.
Students can submit a clip of themselves in cap and gown using the online products StageClip and MarchingOrder, and gather with their families as the ceremony plays online. The ceremony will include all of the features you'd expect, including a virtual walk across the stage and a commencement address.
Blumenfeld says around 250 high schools and colleges have signed up for the virtual program so far, including Killeen ISD in Central Texas.
"Our goal was always to hold a traditional ceremony," said Taina Maya, spokesperson for Killeen ISD, "because, of course, our students are having to sacrifice so much right now. But the resilient class of 2020 is making it known that we are going to continue to celebrate them and honor them."
Killeen ISD will hold virtual graduation ceremonies for its five high schools over the course of three days: May 29, 30, and 31. They expect families to gather in small watch parties to view the online ceremonies, which will also be aired on the district's cable TV channel.
Killeen has 2,464 seniors graduating this year.
The Dallas Independent School District is still finalizing its graduation plans. The school district's logistics are challenging: roughly 9,000 students will graduate this year in 37 different graduation ceremonies.
A DISD spokesperson says a decision on those graduation plans could be coming soon.
Meanwhile Varsity Brands says more schools are signing up for its virtual graduation each day.
"Our job is to be the unsung hero and help the kids celebrate 2020," said Blumenfeld. "That's our job now. And it's going to be our job until this pandemic moves on past us."
Varsity Brands is also offering virtual e-cards for coaches to send to student athletes, and "virtual fittings" for students in cheer and dance.