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Belton ISD Celebrates Class of 2020 in Historic Event on Tiger Field

BHS graduation

Thursday’s graduation celebration in Belton ISD was one for the history books. More than 90 percent of Belton ISD’s senior class - or about 750 students - participated in personalized graduation ceremonies at Tiger Field. 

These ceremonies represented the first time in the district’s history that seniors from Belton High School and Belton New Tech @ Waskow graduated on the football field. Traditionally graduation ceremonies have been held at the Bell County Expo Center.

“When COVID-19 first hit and we realized things would have to be different, we surveyed our 800+ seniors to see what was most important to them,” said Ben Smith, principal at Belton High School. “We took their feedback and started planning for the one-of-a-kind event that played out today.”

The celebration kicked off when graduates arrived at the school’s parking lot. As they wove around the campus to the field, teachers, friends and family celebrated them with signs, decorations and cheering - lots of cheering.

Taylor Breard, an English teacher at New Tech, was stationed along the car parade route. She was one of about 150 district employees who volunteered at the event.

“We haven’t seen these students since March, so we are excited for any opportunity to interact with them, encourage them and cheer them on,” she said. “Being there to smile or say hello as they enter the stadium is the least I can do to help make this huge moment in their lives just a little more special. We love our students and are thrilled to have one final opportunity to honor them.” 

At the field, graduates were joined by up to five family members as they crossed the stage and received their diplomas.

“COVID was deeply unfair to these students,” said Jennisty Thomason, principal at New Tech. “But something sweet that came from our changed plans is that family members were able to actively participate in the ceremony. The graduates were able to choose who in their family presented them their diploma and moved their tassel. It made for some special moments we hope they remember forever.”

Graduation portraits and a video compilation will be shared with graduates later in the summer. The video will include speeches by principals, class officers and the valedictorian and salutatorian of each campus, which were also shared throughout the day-long livestream of graduates walking the stage at Tiger Field.

The celebration ended with a bang, literally, when the Big Red Community gathered at 10 p.m. around the high school for a firework show. K-Rock 101.7 partnered with the district to broadcast a special message to the graduates.

Board President Suzanne M. McDonald participated in the day in her official capacity as well as in her role as a parent. Her son, Dylan Jordan, is now a graduate of Belton High. 

“Our graduates were almost robbed of a moment that they can’t ever get back. And look at what BISD is doing,” McDonald said in Monday’s board meeting. “The planning and thought that goes into everything we do for our kids is top-notch, world-class. So thank you. From a parent’s standpoint - thank you.”