LCA Head of School Bill McGee said the 20,000-seat venue will allow the expected attendance of 1,000-1,200 guests plenty of room to ensure social distancing for the May 22 ceremony, which will be a worship service combined with graduation.
“We won't need to use the whole stadium to spread [attendees] out because we're only going to use 6% of the seats at most,” McGee said.
The ceremony will be hands-free, McGee explained, with graduates crossing a stage on the field to pick up their diplomas and pausing for a photo. He said no handshakes or hugs will be allowed except with students’ immediate family. McGee also praised FC Dallas for allowing the school to use Toyota Stadium, noting the venue's video boards will display images of the graduates as their names are called.
McGee said the use of the stadium met the school’s goals for scheduling a graduation ceremony during the coronavirus pandemic.
“[Our] No. 1 [goal] is we wanted to ensure the safety and health of our students and their families,” the head of school said. “The second criteria was that we would like, if at all possible, to have an in-person ceremony, again ensuring the first criteria.”
The graduation plan was unveiled to the school’s families on May 1, and McGee said the response has been “elation.”
“Immediately our parents of the seniors started emailing, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you. This sounds like a great plan. We have full confidence in this plan,’” McGee said. “I've not heard one negative since we announced—nothing but positives.”
Frisco ISD Superintendent Mike Waldrip also recently announced his district is planning in-person graduation ceremonies to be held between May 26 and June 6.
In the event of rain on the evening of May 22, Legacy Christian Academy's McGee said Toyota Stadium staff have said the ceremony could be shifted to the morning or evening of May 23 as needed. If there were to be a change in the kinds of outdoor gatherings allowed by the state, he said the school has an agreement with a local church to host a smaller gathering.
“We could limit graduation just to the student and his immediate parents—maybe not siblings—and it would still fulfill the social distancing requirements,” McGee said. “The facility we're looking at is large enough to hold 350 and still meet the governor's requirements.”