Higley USD high schools choose virtual graduation ceremonies

Higley USD, Higley Center for the Performing Arts
The graduating seniors from the class of 2020 for Higley and Williams Field high schools will be videotaped crossing the stage at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts to receive their diplomas. (Courtesy Higley USD)

The graduating seniors from the class of 2020 for Higley and Williams Field high schools will be videotaped crossing the stage at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts to receive their diplomas. (Courtesy Higley USD)

The principals at Higley USD’s two high schools announced they are going forward with virtual graduation ceremonies that include a videotaped element of seniors crossing the stage for their diploma.

Alan Fields of Higley High School and Steve Tannenbaum of Williams Field High School jointly emailed their seniors May 4 about the decision made in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We realize that this outcome cannot begin to replace the in-person experience that we would have wanted for you,” Fields and Tannenbaum wrote. “However, ultimately the health and safety of you, your family and our Higley community is our top priority. At this time, we will celebrate you and your academic accomplishments the best way that we can during this unprecedented time in our history.”

The seniors are being invited to come in small groups at an appointed time to the Higley Center for the Performing Arts, where they will be videotaped crossing the stage. The taping is to comply with Gov. Doug Ducey’s guidelines on group gatherings.

Seniors will get an email from their school on the time they are to show up to be videotaped. Higley will record seniors May 11 and Williams Field May 12.


Parents may be allowed to drop off seniors in the center’s north parking lot, but only students are allowed on campus, in the parking lot or at the Higley Center.

The production also will include a biographical slide of each senior and a video of the senior turning her or his tassel that the families previously recorded.

The email did not detail when the graduation ceremony would be shown. However, at the HUSD governing board meeting April 29, district officials said any virtual presentation would occur at the scheduled times of the schools’ graduations, which originally were set for May 21 at Arizona State University’s Desert Financial Arena.

We are so proud of the Class of 2020 and acknowledge the grace you have shown,” Fields and Tannenbaum wrote. “Although we cannot safely celebrate together, this will not stop the commencement that will honor your graduating class.”
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.