As the 2019-20 school year comes to a close, Eanes ISD is gearing up for end-of-year celebrations, adding to the previously released list of graduation events.
Westlake High School Principal Steve Ramsey presented updated commencement plans to the board of trustees during a study session May 12, announcing a socially distant car parade for seniors.
Celebrations will kick off with a virtual senior award ceremony scheduled for May 22. On the same date, the district has organized a cap and gown pickup.
Many seniors have expressed the desire to physically walk across the stage to receive their highs school diploma. In an effort to honor this milestone, the district has arranged for a graduation walk event at Westlake High School’s Performing Arts Center.
“We’ve been toying with this idea for a couple of weeks,” Ramsey said. “It’s going to be a little more labor-intensive, but I think it’s going to be great for our students to have a chance to walk across the stage at the PAC.”
Superintendent Tom Leonard noted the event will be conducted with social distancing in mind. Graduating seniors will be accompanied by their parents or an individual of their choosing to present the diploma. Following the walk across the stage seniors will move to the green room for photos. The event will also be recorded for families and featured in a virtual graduation ceremony.
At this time the graduation walk is set to run from May 22-26; however, according to Ramsey this could change depending on how many students choose to participate.
To prevent any congregation, each student will have a designated time to walk across the stage. The district is also asking participants to wear masks, according to Leonard, who said the arrangement will be a very controlled situation.
“We’re going to be paying extreme attention to making sure we’re following all the rules of social distancing,” Leonard said.
From May 26-28, seniors will be able to pick up yearbooks and project graduation gift bags. They are also required to return district-owned iPads. EISD has previously stated that all other grade levels will retain school materials over the summer.
An additional graduation event has also been scheduled for May 28. Prior to the virtual commencement ceremony, seniors will participate in a drive-by graduation parade at Westlake High School.
EISD teachers and staff members will gather to honor seniors’ final day as Westlake High School students. All teachers and students will remain in their vehicles during the parade.
The district is also calling upon the Westlake community to salute the 2020 graduating class, encouraging residents to organize socially distant celebrations to welcome seniors back home.
“This is where we’re really inviting the community to get involved,” Ramsey said. “When [seniors] drive home hopefully neighborhood associations and parents have done something at the house.”
Seniors and families can still anticipate an in-person ceremony Aug. 7 at Austin’s Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center. According to Ramsey, communication surrounding this ceremony will continue throughout the summer.
In the event that a commencement ceremony is not feasible on that date, a celebration will be scheduled in the fall or winter.
“Our main thing is, again, we want to make sure we’re doing our part to keep the community safe at this moment in time,” Leonard said.