x
Breaking News
More () »

Dallas's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Dallas, Texas | WFAA.com

How coronavirus is affecting high school graduations in North Texas

WFAA asked many school districts what their plans are for graduation and for naming a valedictorian and salutatorian.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended senior year for many soon-to-be high school graduates in North Texas. 

First, districts were thrown into a new norm as learning went remote and school leaders are left to settle just what graduation will look like. Then, students and staff alike had to adjust again when Gov. Greg Abbott announced in-person instruction was canceled for the remainder of the year.

WFAA asked major districts about graduation plans. Here are the responses received so far.

Aledo

Aledo High School's originally scheduled graduation date of Sunday, May 31 has been canceled. 

Aledo will hold a graduation ceremony on May 29 at Bearcat Stadium, according to a tweet from the school district.

Allen

Allen High School will conduct graduation for the Class of 2020 at Eagle Stadium on May 22.

Under the plan, individual seniors and up to five family members will take part in a ceremony. Students will arrive at scheduled times and have a short video and photograph taken on the stage. They will then exit to the concourse where they will receive their official diploma and other recognitions. The entire process is expected to take approximately 15 to 20 minutes from the time they arrive in the parking lot until they leave.

The individual ceremonies will be held simultaneously on four stages on the field at Eagle Stadium. Video clips will be compiled into a searchable Class of 2020 graduation video and graduation portraits will be available as in previous years. Only the graduates and their five family members will be allowed into the stadium at their scheduled time. The stands will not be open to the public.

Approximately 1,650 seniors will graduate with the Allen High School Class of 2020. The ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. and last until all scheduled students cross one of the four stages.

In lieu of graduation practice, seniors will be receiving detailed information in the coming weeks about scheduling and parking information along with a short video.

Argyle

In partnership with the Texas Motor Speedway, our graduates will be able to participate in their Commencement Ceremony. Argyle High School will hold their 2020 Graduation Commencement Ceremony on May 18 at 5:00pm. 

RELATED: Texas Motor Speedway will host graduations for Denton County high schools

Valedictorian: We already have our valedictorian and salutatorian.

Arlington

Arlington ISD’s classes of 2020 will graduate in-person at College Park Center on the campus of The University of Texas at Arlington. The ceremonies are set for July 13, 14, 17, 18 and 19. Arlington Collegiate High School seniors will graduate on July 20 at UT Arlington’s Texas Hall.

Arlington ISD officials worked in close coordination with the Arlington Fire Department and UT Arlington to ensure that College Park Center would be ready to host safe graduation ceremonies in July. “As difficult as this year has been for our senior students, safety must remain our No. 1 priority,” said Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, superintendent. “The Arlington Fire Department and UT Arlington have assured us that they will not only help to logistically prepare the building for proper social distancing and sanitation but also attend the ceremonies to help manage the process.”

Cavazos said that if circumstances change and in-person graduation isn’t possible on these July dates, the district will maintain the dates for virtual graduation.

Cavazos and other district officials spent the last several weeks in talks with student body leaders and principals from the seven district high schools with graduating classes. A survey was also sent to all graduating seniors to understand the style of graduation they preferred. The survey revealed that an overwhelming number of students preferred in-person graduation even if they had to wait. Virtual graduation was undeniably the least desired option out of four possible graduation scenarios.

“We wanted to hear from our students before we made a final decision,” said Cavazos. “We heard their feedback and we believe we have a plan that will allow us to honor their wishes and have a safe graduation ceremony.

“We know there are many more questions about graduation ceremonies and we will answer them as we go. For now, we want to announce the dates to let parents, students, teachers and the community know that a plan is in place.”

July 13    Lamar HS
July 14    Arlington HS
July 17    Bowie & Seguin HS
July 18    Sam Houston HS
July 19    Martin HS
July 20    Arlington Collegiate High School – UT Arlington, Texas Hall 

Azle

Azle High School’s graduation ceremony is currently scheduled for June 2 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. If we are unable to keep that date, we have secured a backup date of Thursday, July 23, 2020 for graduation at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

Valedictorian: Our School Board will be voting on a resolution pertaining to this at our meeting on Monday, April 20.

Birdville

We understand that there continues to be a lot of questions about in-person graduations. Currently, BISD has June 20 and July 26 reserved at Dickies Arena as alternate dates for graduation. However, the District must wait for the mandated guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and other state and local agencies before we can make final decisions.

Once we receive more details, the District will determine if in-person graduation ceremonies are a possibility. (BISD does prefer to have in-person graduations.) If it is determined that in-person graduations are not an option, the District will consider virtual graduation ceremonies.

Until we have the TEA’s guidance, a better understanding of restrictions for large gatherings, and dates when facilities can begin normal operations, we ask for your patience. (Remember, all facilities in Tarrant County are currently closed until further notice.)

We hope to provide information about prom at the same time as graduation details.

Burleson

The Burleson Independent School District (BISD) will celebrate the Class of 2020 with virtual ceremonies held on regularly-scheduled graduation dates and a Reverse Senior Parade.  

Virtual Graduation Ceremonies will be available on the district Facebook page and YouTube channel on these dates:   

  • Burleson Collegiate High School - May 26 at 7:00 p.m. 
  • Burleson High School - May 27 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Centennial High School - May 28 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Crossroads High School - May 29 at 6:30 p.m. 

The Reverse Senior Parade scheduled for Friday, May 22, will begin at 6 p.m. and end at 8:20 p.m. with the lighting of all BISD stadiums in honor of the Class of 2020. Families and community members are invited to participate in the celebration by driving through senior’s neighborhoods to help celebrate the Class of 2020.  

Coppell

In light of the unknown and ever-changing timeline for social distancing and school closures, Coppell ISD has made the difficult decision to move the graduation ceremonies for Coppell High School and New Tech @ Coppell online. Additionally, we will look for a date in the summer to hold an in-person graduation at new venues, if possible. Both Coppell High School and New Tech High @ Coppell will honor and celebrate their seniors through virtual graduation ceremonies on their original dates. Specific details about the online events will be shared closer to the date, including if these dates need to be adjusted.

  • Coppell High School - May 28, 2020 at 1 p.m.
  • New Tech High @ Coppell - May 22, 2020 at 3 p.m.

District officials will continue to monitor this ever-changing situation and make the best decisions to keep our students safe, while following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and local, state and federal agencies.

Valedictorian: That already was determined in early February. It wasn’t affected by the closure. It is determined based on final grades at the end of the fall semester. Our valedictorian and salutatorian for both of our high schools were determined and notified in February. Our ranked students were also finalized then as well.

Dallas

In order to provide the safest and most secure environment for our students, their families and staff, this year Dallas ISD will hold commencement ceremonies virtually beginning May 22. 

Efforts will be made to maintain as much of the traditional ceremony as possible. In addition, all 8,900 seniors will receive customized banners to display at home. 

As a special way to show support of this year’s senior class, Dallas ISD invites the community to step outside their residence from 7 to 7:10 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, and recognize all senior students during a districtwide ovation. 

Students and families will receive details regarding virtual graduation information for each campus, along with how to retrieve their gap and gown. Students should expect to receive a notification from their principal by next week. 

In total, Dallas ISD will hold 37 commencement ceremonies beginning May 22 to May 31.

Denton

Denton ISD is partnering with Texas Motor Speedway and fellow Denton County school districts to host in-person graduation ceremonies on their originally scheduled dates, providing families with a venue that offers ample space to ensure all health precautions are met during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All five Denton ISD high schools will retain their originally scheduled graduation dates of May 21 and May 22 as well as close to their originally planned times. 

Graduation times for high schools are as follows:

  • Ryan High School: Thursday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Fred Moore High School: Friday, May 22 at 8:30 a.m.
  • Braswell High School: Friday, May 22 at 11 a.m.
  • Guyer High School: Friday, May 22 at 3 p.m.
  • Denton High School: Friday, May 22 at 7 p.m.

Graduating students and their families will receive additional logistical information about the ceremonies, such as arrival times and parking, directly from their campus leaders in the day ahead. 

RELATED: Texas Motor Speedway will host graduations for Denton County high schools

Duncanville

To our Class of 2020 seniors, we continue to evaluate all of the possibilities for graduation from a traditional ceremony to a virtual way of celebrating this once in a lifetime event. More information will be shared as we find solutions and a decision is finalized.

Eagle Mountain-Saginaw

As of May 10, the school district's ceremonies will take place at Chisholm Trail’s Ranger Stadium on May 30.

Earlier, the district sad that "regardless of the venue, we will have some sort of ceremony for our seniors and their families. Our preference is to have an in-person ceremony for our families if possible, but there's simply too many unknowns at this time to determine the course of action. We will communicate plans with our families as soon as a decision can be made."

Prom and graduation are two milestone events seniors celebrate, and this year will be no different for the EMS ISD Class of 2020. Campus principals reassured students in a video released Monday that graduations and proms have not been nixed yet due to the Coronavirus outbreak, and backup dates are chosen in case cancellation becomes inevitable.

“We want to assure you that your 13 years of dedication and achievement will not go unnoticed or unrecognized,” said Watson High School principal Melanie Stitt via video.

“We want to do everything we can to celebrate your accomplishments,” added Saginaw High School principal Karen Pressley.

Valedictorian: our Valedictorians are being determined based on cumulative GPA up through the end of fall 2019 semester. Spring 2020 is not being counted toward GPA calculations.

Ennis

We do not have anything different scheduled at this time. Still keeping our fingers crossed, but will wait on the state to decide if we are going back at all.

Valedictorian: This has not been decided yet. But, more than likely, all grades will be calculated and finalized from the end of the first semester, which ended in December.

The second semester is incomplete for students and it would not be fair to let these grades count towards final class rankings.

Ferris

We have looked at several options, but haven't decided on the best course of action with many unknowns still at this time.

Valedictorian: We stop calculating GPA and class rank at the end of the 3rd nine weeks for seniors. This year that so happened to be the last day we were in school so the closure has no impact on that for us.

Fort Worth

High school 2020 graduation dates, times, and locations have been announced for Fort Worth ISD.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 

Trimble Technical High School, Dickies Arena – 6 p.m.

Thursday, May 28, 2020  

Paschal High School, Dickies Arena – 6 p.m.

Marine Creek Collegiate High School, Will Rogers Auditorium – 7 p.m.

Polytechnic High School, Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center – 7 p.m.

Friday, May 29, 2020

South Hills High School, Dickies Arena – 6 p.m.

Benbrook High School, Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena (Texas Christian University) – 7 p.m.    

Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences, Will Rogers Auditorium – 7 p.m. 

Success High School, Trimble Technical HS Auditorium – 8 p.m.

Carter-Riverside High School, Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center – 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

TCC/South Collegiate High School, Will Rogers Auditorium – 8 a.m.

Eastern Hills High School, Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena (TCU) – 9 a.m.

World Languages Institute, Texas Wesleyan University Music Hall – 11 a.m.         

Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Will Rogers Auditorium – Noon

O.D. Wyatt High School, Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center- Noon

Western Hills High School, Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena (TCU) – 2 p.m.

Young Men’s Leadership Academy, Will Rogers Auditorium – 4 p.m.

Dunbar High School, Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena (TCU) – 7 p.m.

Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School, Will Rogers Auditorium – 8 p.m.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

North Side High School, Ed & Rae Schollmaier (TCU) – 11a.m.

Southwest High School, Ed & Rae Schollmaier (TCU) – 3 p.m.

Arlington Heights High School, Ed & Rae Schollmaier (TCU) – 7 p.m.

Alternative/Special Schools

Transition Center – Tarrant County College-Trinity River, The Energy Room Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 7 p.m.                              

Boulevard Heights, School Gym, Friday, May 22, 2020, 1 p.m.

Metro Opportunity, School Cafeteria, Thursday, May 28, 2020, 1 p.m.

Jo Kelly School, School Gym, Wednesday, June 10, 2020, 1 p.m. 

Frisco

Frisco ISD graduation ceremonies are currently scheduled May 28-30. Details here. 

If FISD is able to reopen schools and finish out the school year, the ceremonies will continue as scheduled. The District is putting contingency plans into place should that not be possible due to the pandemic and social distancing guidelines. There have been several ideas and options discussed for what that could look like, but nothing has been finalized and plans continue to evolve.

In the meantime, we are trying to make the best of the worst possible situation for seniors. Frisco ISD has printed approximately 4,400 yard signs for seniors and their families to display congratulating them on their accomplishments. Distribution of the signs began last week and will continue over the next few weeks based on high school. Campuses are also utilizing social media to share photos and videos celebrating seniors and encouraging seniors to share memories, college plans and their own photos and videos as well.

Garland

Garland ISD has set up two alternative dates (in June and in July) in the event that we cannot host graduation in May.

Valedictorian: We are still working on grading guidelines.

Grapevine-Colleyville

Below is information that was shared by our campus principals last week:

Graduation
We have been notified by College Park at UTA that all events through the end of May 2020 must be rescheduled. Operating under this guidance, we will also reschedule graduations for Bridges and Collegiate Academy. We have selected a date in June, as well as an alternate date in July for Grapevine High School and Colleyville Heritage High School, with every hope that we are able to conduct our graduation ceremonies for our seniors. Please add the following alternative graduation dates to your calendar:

  • Bridges - June 22 at 4 p.m. at Grapevine Convention Center
  • Collegiate Academy - June 22 at 7 p.m. at Grapevine Convention Center
  • Grapevine High School - June 24 at 3:30 p.m. at UTA College Park Center
    • Alternate Date: July 17 at 3:30 p.m. at UTA College Park Center
  • Colleyville Heritage High School - June 24 at 7:30 p.m. at UTA College Park Center
    • Alternate Date: July 17 at 7:30 p.m. at UTA College Park Center

Valedictorian: We are determining our Valedictorian and Salutatorian using the same process and procedures we would any other year.

Hurst-Euless-Bedford

Graduation is at the New Dickies Arena May 31 for both LD Bell and Trinity. We have make up days scheduled for June 28 or July 19 if necessary. We hope to have the graduation at the Dickies Arena one of those three dates. If not possible we are working with one of our venders (Balfour) on a virtual graduation.

Valedictorian: we are working on that now

Irving

We are still determining next steps. No decisions have been made yet.

Joshua

Joshua ISD is planning on having some type of graduation ceremony one way or another. Our original date was for May 22. Right now, we are still hoping to have it at our football stadium at some point this summer. If we cannot, we may have some kind of drive-by ceremony where kids can come with their families, have their photo taken, and pick up their diplomas. Our last resort is to use the free virtual commencement ceremony that Jostens is offering all districts.

We are still in a wait and see approach right now, but once we have a better idea, I can let you know.

Valedictorian: We decided that the Val and Sal would be based on class rank at the end of the 4th six weeks grading period, which ended on February 13. That was the last full grading period before we had to switch to online, and there are many other logistical issues that would have made it tough to determine the Val after that period.

Keller

We have not yet canceled our Saturday, May 23 graduation date, but we have July 25 as our back-up date at Dickies arena. Moving forward as creative celebratory plans for our graduates begin to take shape I'll be sure to reach back out to make you aware.

Valedictorian: Class rank was determined at the end of the third nine weeks per our policy - this is not new. The fourth nine weeks of Pass/Fail had no bearing on class rank

Kemp

We are undecided at this time.

Krum

We are still scheduled for May 22 and are working on contingency plans.

Valedictorian: Per our district policy, GPA rankings for seniors are determined at the conclusion of the third nine weeks, which occurred on March 6 prior to the start of remote learning practices.

McKinney

Our graduations are scheduled for Friday, May 29 for our three high schools. We currently have the Allen Event Center reserved for the events. However, we are planning a drive-through graduation option and an online graduation option if restrictions are such that we are unable to continue our traditional graduation plan. No decision has been made at this time.

Northwest

 Our graduation plans currently remain the same. Our comprehensive high schools – Byron Nelson, Eaton and Northwest – typically graduate at the University of North Texas Coliseum. This year they are scheduled to graduate at this venue on May 26. UNT has not yet moved these dates. If these dates end up getting canceled by the university, however, we hope to either reschedule them at the UNT Coliseum for later in the summer or host the graduations on separate nights at Northwest ISD Stadium.

Steele Accelerated High School, which is a much smaller high school, annually hosts its graduation ceremony at one of our high school performing arts centers, which will remain the case this year (at the Byron Nelson High School Performing Arts Center). Their graduation is set for May 22, though this could be postponed depending on the timeline of the ongoing pandemic.

Valedictorian: Class rank is still determined by GPA, with final GPAs as of April 17 used to select valedictorian and salutatorian.

Plano

As we recently shared with families, Plano ISD is committed to honoring our Senior Class of 2020. We will continue to monitor recommendations and guidelines related to COVID-19, while seeking creative solutions for celebrating our seniors, and will continue providing updates to families as available. We will hold off for as long as possible regarding final decisions about graduation. We really want to host commencement ceremonies for our seniors and their families if at all possible. We are developing contingency plans in case we are not able to host ceremonies in person, as well as considering later dates.

To fully answer your question, originally scheduled graduation dates are: June 1 for Plano ISD Academy High School and June 6 for the three senior high schools.

Princeton

Princeton High School is making every attempt to hold graduation commencement as scheduled, which is 7 p.m. Thursday, May 28, at Allen Event Center. However, with the current state of the country as it deals with the pandemic, these decisions are not in the district's hands as PISD must adhere to all local, county and state orders in an attempt to keep our community healthy and safe from further spread of COVID-19.

"We know parents and graduates are anxious to know plans for this year's commencement, and we want to honor the Class of 2020 and plan to do so when and where we are allowed," Superintendent Philip Anthony said. "We just can't say for certain when or where at this time as it is out of our control."

Some school districts have already canceled, postponed or rescheduled their graduation ceremonies, however, PISD school administrators do not want to make premature decisions without knowing if they will be necessary.

Princeton ISD will communicate graduation plans as soon as there is enough information to make a decision.

Valedictorian: Same process as always, highest GPA. We are still grading during our home-based instruction.

Prosper

Prosper High School Graduation is scheduled for May 23, 2020 at 10 am. In the event that we cannot hold graduation on this date, we are working on a plan B so the graduates can be honored and celebrated for 13 years of education.

At this time, we have a senior slide show displayed on the video board at our stadium every Wednesday from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. for people to view while they drive by.

Red Oak

We are scheduled for May 26 at University of Texas at Arlington College Park, expect that to be canceled.

Looking at several options, all dependent on the status of state/city/county ‘ quarantine levels and dates.

  1. Drive-thru graduation at ROHS – could include a stage with a small number walking across at a time while families in car or just handing diploma into vehicle; already have a local radio station committed to do live broadcast, and we will run a live feed on multiple platforms.
  2. Option for graduation by waves in the high school performing arts center – split alpha by say four groups – would need group gathering lifted.

“We are dedicated to providing the Class of 2020 with a special ceremony, unique for this year for sure, while also being cautious about the health and safety of all involved,” said Superintendent Brenda Sanford. “Each of these young men and women has worked extremely hard to get here, their families are excited about this milestone, and we want to celebrate their success.”

Valedictorian: Val and Sal are well ahead and solidified, based on the end of fall 2019.

Royse City

Royse City High School has Graduation planned for May 26. A backup date of June 22 has been secured if needed. Thank you!

Sunnyvale

It all depends on timing and if we go back or not. We have a lot of cool stuff planned either way.

Our graduation is set for May 29, but we also announced a back-up graduation date of June 26, as well.

If SISD is still not back in school, we have planned several senior activities to take the place of our typical senior traditions - just waiting to see if we have to do them in this alternative way. You can imagine that this is a big deal in our small town.

One of the coolest parts of our planning is that our superintendent, Doug Williams, has. been meeting with our senior class officers throughout the whole planning process. He has been at Sunnyvale since this class was in first grade - in fact, his office was originally in the elementary school when they were little, so he knows them all well. He has met with them via zoom to help them, along with the high school principal Brian Nickel, plan these potentially alternate activities, which is a cool thing.

Some of the activities they have planned:

- They are working with the Town of Sunnyvale to convert the traditional "Senior Walk" into a "Senior Drive." In the traditional Senior Walk, the seniors take one last walk around the high school hallways, as they are lined with their classmates and teachers. Their parents wait for them at the end. Fairly emotional... lots of hugs and tears!

- They will be doing our scholarship announcements via a video. Time TBD.

- They are going to be doing a virtual Capping Ceremony. Probably video on that as well. (The traditional Capping Ceremony is a really special event where the seniors are "capped" (with their graduation caps/mortar boards) by someone who has made an impact on their lives during high school - it's a way for the seniors to honor a special mentor, parent, sibling, grandparent, etc.

- Again, they have set an alternate date for Graduation for Friday, June 26. Time and site TBD.

Hopefully this gives you a picture of what is being planned! Let me know if I can help!

Terrell

Terrell ISD's graduation for Terrell High School was scheduled for May 22. We put out a survey to our seniors and their families to ask what their preferences were for contingency plans. We asked about doing a graduation parade, mini graduation ceremonies with small groups of graduates, or a delayed graduation. It was overwhelming - more than 80 percent of our graduates asked for a delayed graduation so they could walk the stage with their peers. We have rescheduled for June 12. We are also working with our city for a senior parade (in cars) on what would have been their original graduation date. A local company donated yard signs and we are placing them in all of our senior yards.

Valedictorian: Our last day in school was March 13 (before everything shut down). All class ranks were frozen at that time and Val, Sal, and top ten will be determined based on where the students were at March 13.

Weatherford

The graduation ceremony for Weatherford High School seniors is June 1 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. We have scheduled a second date of July 24. We are exploring other options, and as a last resort, we are planning a virtual graduation ceremony.

Valedictorian: We are determining senior class rank based on GPAs at the end of the first semester for 2019-2020

White Settlement

Our graduation is scheduled for May 21, and we have a backup date of July 16. We will adjust if necessary, but that's the plan at this time.

Valedictorian: It will be the same as in prior years (we'll figure it in mid May). We are not doing pass/fail. We have adjusted our grading guidelines so that this last 9 week grading period won't hurt students but could help them.

Wylie

Both Wylie ISD graduation ceremonies are scheduled for Saturday, May 23. At this time, we are sticking to this date. We will continue to monitor the situation, including any restrictions in place at that might affect large gatherings. We have secured a backup date in June, if needed.

Valedictorian: It will be based on the last grading period, which ended March 6. That will also determine the final class rank.

More on WFAA.com

Teen collects coloring books, brain teasers to help seniors keep depression at bay

'It makes me want to work harder to prove everybody right': Southlake Carroll QB Quinn Ewers named No. 1 recruit in the country for Class of 2022

Longtime Dallas ISD teacher Miles Warnock dies over the weekend

Here's where researchers predict the highest levels of care will be needed for COVID-19 in Dallas