Iva Sanchez, a senior at Crockett Early College High School, did not expect to have an in person graduation. But when AISD announced earlier this year ceremonies would be in person, she said she felt grateful and excited to share the moment with her friends and family.
"I will get to see my friends, and the event will feel more meaningful and real this way, rather than online," Sanchez said.
In-person graduation for the AISD class of 2021 wasn’t always a sure thing. In 2020, the district held virtual graduation ceremonies featuring speeches and in-person graduation walks for students to receive their diplomas.
"Students were provided a time to show up and walk the stage to receive their diplomas and take pictures, but it was very nontraditional,” said Sheila Henry, executive director of secondary schools. “This year, we are so excited to be having an actual ceremony, and we are so proud to give our students the ceremony they deserve."
Henry’s team began preparing for graduation in December, not knowing if it would even be possible to have graduation in person. When cases spiked in the winter, an in-person event seemed out of reach. Since then, however, vaccines and increased safety measures have driven cases down across the board.
“Fortunately for us, vaccines are going into the arms of Texans,” Henry said. “We are in a good place where we can be socially distanced and conduct the ceremony that our families will appreciate and remember for a lifetime."
Sanchez, the senior at Crockett, said her family could not be more excited to watch her graduate.
"It was a big event when my sister graduated, and it will be for me too,” she said. “When we heard it would be in person, my mom especially was so excited."
In-person graduation ceremonies will be from May 28-June 3 at one of three AISD outdoor stadiums—Burger Athletic Center, House Park or Nelson Field. Rosedale School will be the exception, as students will celebrate during a ceremony on May 28th.
Students and their families who attend graduation in person will be asked to follow safety protocols that include masking, temperature checks, and distancing, with staff members on-site providing direction. Each graduate is allowed eight guests to attend the ceremonies, which will include live speeches. Graduates will walk in the traditional processional and be seated on the field six feet apart. A livestream via Facebook Live and AISD.TV will be available for family members who cannot attend in person.
"Graduations are so important to our families," Henry said. "It is a momentous occasion that families remember forever, and by offering the ceremony to our graduates, parents and families should expect an awesome ceremony."
For more information on this year's graduation schedule please visit www.austinisd.org/graduation.