FORT WORTH, Texas - Texas Motor Speedway held its first graduations for the class of 2020.
It's not what anyone would have expected when school started, but it was definitely an experience none of these graduates will forget.
All 23 Denton County high schools plan to hold their graduation ceremonies at TMS. They're averaging two per day.
Students are grateful for the chance to walk as planned, even if the venue and set up is different.
It's a different kind of event that's attracting spectators to the Texas Motor Speedway. The giant race track has been transformed into a graduation venue.
TMS offered up the outdoor facility to all Denton County schools after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled traditional indoor graduation plans.
Argyle High School was first up at the starting line on Monday.
“I’m very appreciative of this opportunity and very glad that we were going to be able to have a graduation for them,” said Argyle ISD Superintendent Telena Wright.
Argyle ISD normally holds graduation at UNT. The 220 students who make up the class of 2020 are grateful for the generous back-up plan.
“I think what they’ve done now is actually great,” said Sonali Gandhi, Argyle High School valedictorian. “It’s giving us the opportunity to really have an in-person graduation while still following guidelines.”
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Jon Robertson, Argyle HS salutation. “A lot of people have been working really hard to make sure that we can have this graduation.”
Students were seated six feet apart. They got their picture taken and diplomas handed to them, but they had to forgo the traditional handshake on stage.”
“I think will all look back at this in a couple of years and just laugh,” Gandhi said.
Parents watched the ceremony from the comforts of their vehicles while parked in the in-field campground.
“We have about 20 family members who came to help support him,” said parent Ty Wellborn. “We’re just sitting here enjoying the atmosphere.”
The pomp and circumstance was projected on the giant Big Hoss TV monitor with audio streamed on the radio. There was also a live stream online for those who couldn't make it.
To minimize exposure, family members were asked to stay in their vehicles.
The salutatorian said his grandparents didn't want to take any chances, so they watched the live stream from the safety of their own home.