ROUND ROCK, Texas - There's a balloon covered entranceway and the familiar music, but the graduation ceremony at Round Rock ISD's Kelly Reeves Sports Complex was far from traditional.
"And so we just put our heads together to come up with a way to do it, safely, with social distancing, but allow these kids to have their moment,” said RRISD Spokesperson Jenny LaCoste-Caputo.
When the name of graduating senior Nicolas Mims was called, he and his family were among the few people in the massive sports complex. Scott Mims and his wife thought COVID-19 would steal this day from them.
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"To me it was, heart touched, and was a lot of work and due to the virus it’s very different from a lot of graduations, but he graduated and shows we can go through anything," Scott Mims said.
Earlier Monday morning, to beat the heat, a larger group of classmates from Success High School entered the stadium. The event was a good substitute for what could have been, said James Darby. “Yes, in my opinion, I appreciate it, just the effort they put into it for the kids, because they could have got nothing. So I'm cool with it,” he said.
While it certainly looked different, the graduates got their diplomas, walked across the stage, and took pictures, documenting a graduation day unlike any other. The 100th to make the crossing Monday was Darby’s son, Jamond. "It was overall good because I had my family with me,” said Jamond.
About an hour before Jamond arrived at the complex, international student Aziza Hakimova crossed the stage. "It was not typical, I think, this year was about the pandemic,” he said.
Modified graduations will take place at this stadium all week. Students from every RRISD High School, and their parents, will get a chance. The largest school has a senior class of more than 700. Because of that, each ceremony will be spread out throughout the day in order to maintain social distancing.
"I know some are waiting, after the Governor's Order, awaiting after June 1st, and doing some in-person graduations, others are doing virtual and hoping for something in August, I don’t know anyone quite what we are doing, we have had some interest for other districts, who have called and asked for details,” said LaCoste-Caputo.
There's no commencement speech. That will be done later during an online ceremony. Emma Childs liked the fast-tracked ceremony and said she is not letting the viral outbreak change her plans for the future- she wants to study nursing. "I want to go into the healthcare field to make it better and help more people, so it’s definitely reinforced, that I want to be a nurse,” said Childs.
A little more than 200 RRISD Seniors got to make the walk Monday. On Tuesday graduates from Stoney Point will get their turn.
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