“It takes a team to turn it on, much less operate it,” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. “It’s the world’s biggest TV.”
A drive-in graduation at the Texas Motor Speedway, in which district families will park their vehicles on the infield, provides the best overall option for the district in order to meet health guidelines and not interrupt families’ travel arrangements, Northwest ISD Superintendent Ryder Warren said in a May 1 announcement by the district.
Students will be separated from families and taken to pit road, where they will be seated according to social distancing requirements, Gossage said. The motor speedway infield has a footprint equal to four AT&T Stadiums and provides ample space, he said.
“Parents, family and friends will stay in their cars like a drive-in theater crowd and listen to audio on the car radio,” Gossage said.
While relatives will not be able to directly see the area where ceremonies take place, they will be able to watch the action on the big screen, Gossage said. Photographers will also be in place to capture students as they cross the Winners Circle to receive their diploma, he said.
“By using the Texas Motor Speedway, we can keep our promise to our seniors for a true in-person graduation while ensuring there’s plenty of space for attendees to use social distancing,” Warren said. “We’re extremely excited to celebrate the class of 2020 as they deserve to be celebrated.”
All four NISD high schools will hold ceremonies May 26 in a “venue that offers ample space to ensure all health precautions are met during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the announcement said.
Ceremonies for Steele Accelerated High School will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by Byron Nelson High School at 11 a.m.; Eaton High School at 3 p.m.; and Northwest High School at 7 p.m.
“We can’t thank the leadership of Texas Motor Speedway enough for the ability to use the speedway for our graduation ceremonies,” Warren said. “With the uncertainty of what future health restrictions may be in place in the coming months, we and other area school districts felt using Texas Motor Speedway is the best option for our families.”
The district will share social distancing and health-related guidelines and provide additional information to families about ceremony logistics, such as parking and arrival times, at a later date, the announcement said.
According to Gossage, with assistance from Denton County Judge Andy Eads, the speedway has agreed to host graduation ceremonies for almost a dozen districts in the area, including Lewisville ISD, Denton ISD, Argyle ISD and Ponder ISD.
“In the last 24 hours, as word has gotten out about this, we’ve heard from 10 other schools in the metroplex,” Gossage said. “The important thing is giving the graduates a proper ceremony to celebrate their accomplishment.”