For the parents of Klein Cain High School’s inaugural senior class, missing the chance to see their students walk across the graduation stage this year was not an option.
After Klein ISD announced the cancellation of all graduation and prom events July 16 due to rising COVID-19 cases in the Greater Houston area, Klein Cain High School parents Heather Boland, Jennifer Mauz and Shelley Barreda came together to organize an unofficial, in-person ceremony to honor the high school's first graduating class.
“This group of students came on board into Klein Cain [High School] as sophomores, and they actually made landfall—if you will—as Hurricanes, just after Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area,” Heather Boland said. “It is an amazing group of students. ... These students have built the [school’s] foundation for the years to come.”
Heather Boland’s daughter, graduating senior Emma, said she is grateful to be able to experience her high school graduation following a year of challenges.
“As someone who already missed most of the final moments of our senior year because of medical issues, this graduation means a lot to me,” Emma Boland said. “I love what the parents are doing to wrap up this crazy, but memorable year for us all.”
Graduating senior Alyssa Mauz said she is thankful to her mom for helping to put on the event, especially with how the school year ended in the spring semester.
“We missed out on so much,” Alyssa Mauz said. “We didn't get to experience our last semester of high school, we never got to have our clap-out, we didn't get to say goodbye to our friends, we didn't get to get our yearbook signed, no prom.”
For Brooke Barreda, the graduation ceremony will serve as a positive ending to a tough senior year.
“It's very special because I graduated under these circumstances, and even though we had to stay inside for months and I couldn't see my friends, ... I'll still be able to see them and have the graduation that I always wanted since I was 5 years old,” Brooke said.
The event is set to take place on Friday, July 31, with time slots at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at The Lonestar Convention & Expo Center in Conroe. The event will also be live streamed for free, at-home viewing.
The graduation will feature from guest speakers including Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Judge Lincoln Goodwin and a virtual message from Klein Cain High School namesake and former KISD superintendent Jim Cain, in addition to a few surprise guests.
The event’s organizers said they attributed the event’s fruition to support from the local community.
“In a very short week's time, we have had a great turnout from the community,” Shelley Barreda said. “The community has supported us 100% from paying for the venue to helping us find a variety of different things.”
A number of local businesses offered their support for the ceremony, ranging from One Hip Mom, which is providing gown steaming services, to Venetian Nail Spa, which is providing sanitizing equipment. Thanks to the community’s support, the event will be free of charge for attending seniors and their families.
“Initially, we weren't sure if there was going to be a cost for the families but because of this literal outpouring of support from the community ... and these corporate sponsors, we're very excited to let all the seniors know that there is no charge to attend the event,” Heather Boland said.
To limit the number of attendees as a safety precaution for COVID-19, the event organizers are asking attending seniors and their families to sign up for tickets by July 28 at 9 p.m. Tickets will be required upon entrance to the event. To RSVP, click here.
“We are limiting the number of guests to accommodate the [Centers for Disease Control] guidelines of staying six feet apart,” Shelley Barreda said. “We're requiring everybody wear masks, and we're offering a couple of ceremonies to allow the most amount of seniors to attend.”
Parents of graduating seniors from Klein High School have also organized unofficial ceremonies for their students, with an event scheduled to take place on Sunday, Aug. 2.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Klein Cain High School graduation ceremony would take place on July 3. The date for the event is scheduled for Friday, July 31. This article has also been updated to clarify Klein Cain High School namesake and former KISD superintendent Jim Cain will provide a virtual message to seniors during the event.