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Belton ISD High Schools Announce 2020 Graduation Plan

Belton High School and Belton New Tech @ Waskow seniors will graduate in a personalized outdoor ceremony June 18 at Tiger Field, high school principals announced today.

“We jointly surveyed our 800+ seniors several weeks ago and heard loud and clear that they wanted to be able to physically walk across a stage for graduation,” said Ben Smith, principal at Belton High School. “Our plan for June 18 will allow them to do that and more.” 

Under the plan, students will arrive at scheduled times on June 18 with New Tech students in the morning and Belton High students in the afternoon and evening. 

The graduation experience, Smith said, will begin before students even enter the stadium.

“The celebration will kick off with a car parade as students arrive at the parking lot of Tiger Field,” he said. “We want them to decorate their vehicle, honk, wave and get excited as we celebrate their 13 years of hard work.”

Next up, students will enter the stadium with up to five family members to take part in a personal graduation ceremony that includes walking across a stage and posing for photographs.

“We’ll create the traditional graduation ceremony for them here,” said Jennisty Thomason, principal at New Tech, noting that the stands will not be open to the public. “Their name will be called, they’ll walk across the stage to receive their diploma and their family will cheer. And we’ll capture it all with professional photography and videography.”

As they exit the concourse, students will pick up their official diploma and pose for additional photos. Graduation portraits and a video compilation will be shared with graduates later in the summer.

The principals estimate the entire process - from the student’s arrival in the parking lot until they leave - will take about 15-20 minutes per family. 

But the celebration doesn’t end there.

“Later that evening, after the entire class of 2020 has graduated, they are all invited back to Tiger Field for a fireworks show,” Thomason said. “It’ll include a broadcast of special messages to the graduates.”

The Texas Education Agency provided guidance to school districts last week approving outdoor ceremonies with additional requirements related to number of participants, diploma presentation procedures and other safety protocols.  

“Safety has been part of every conversation we’ve had about what graduation would look like,” Smith said. “We’re following guidance from TEA as well as other state and local entities. Our goal has been to combine these two components - safety and creating a memorable graduation experience. I think this plan accomplishes that.”

Thomason said finding the right way to honor the class of 2020 has been heavy on the hearts of many in Belton ISD since COVID-19 cut short their senior year.

“Life is not fair, and seniors got a large dose of unfairness this spring,” she said. “We knew we couldn’t give them back what they’d lost in the school closure, but we could give them our best. We’re proud of the celebration we’ve pulled together and are looking forward to honoring our amazing, resilient senior class on June 18.” 

Seniors will receive emails in the coming weeks with additional details about safety protocols, scheduling and parking. The information will also be posted on www.bisd.net/extendedlearning.

View the 2020 Graduation Plan here.

May 11, 2020