GOLIAD – The graduates will indeed be walking the stage this year — albeit with some extra safety precautions because of COVID-19.
“We think we have a pretty good plan for the kids,” said Dr. Stacy Ackley, superintendent at Goliad ISD.
Brandon Enos, high school principal, said that initially they had planned for a drive-in style graduation ceremony.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, we didn’t think we would be able to do anything more than a drive through graduation ceremony.
“We were going to give you as much tradition as we could.”
As the governor began relaxing some of the restrictions these past weeks, a more traditional graduation seems possible now.
Instructions from the state, specifically the governor, now allows school districts to hold these ceremonies in a more traditional fashion May 22.
Of course, it comes with rules — five pages worth from the Texas Education Agency to ensure that the students and visitors adhere to a number of safety measures.
This will include each visitor being asked a series of questions before being allowed into the audience at the stadium.
“We have a lot of questions we need to ask each one of the people before they get out of their vehicles,” Enos said. “We have a lot of rules we have to follow, and we will make sure everybody adheres to those rules, or we ask them to leave.”
Following these rules means that the 105 graduates will indeed get to walk the stage as others have done for so many years.
Enos said that they are also still going ahead with their plan of a parade with graduates making their way through town along the path created by the banners that feature their photos.
“It should be about a 35 to 40 minute parade,” he said.
The parade begins about 1 p.m., and the entire county is invited to line the streets and cheer on the graduates.
Students will meet at the Goliad County Fair Grounds where they will drive north on Highway 183 to East Franklin where they will turn left. From Franklin they will head downtown on South Commercial Street, to the square and west onto West End Street, to West Franklin Street and up Mt. Auburn Street, east onto West Garden Street, to North Market Street, then to West High Street, to North Chilton Street and onto the high school where the parade ends.
The formal graduation ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. with parents and spectators — only those with a ticket — beginning to arrive at 6:30 p.m.
The district is limiting the number of spectators in the stadium and on the field because of the state required social distancing rules.
“We would love to say bring as many people as you can,” Enos said.
Ackley said, “Everyone has to have a ticket. Even a newborn baby. We are going to have to keep numbers on every single person who enters.”
Enos said, “People keep asking everyday about having more seats. We cannot. I want to say ‘Yes’ to all of them, but we can’t.”
Of course, those unable to sit in the stadium will still be able to see the ceremony.
The district will have large screens setup for spectators to watch, from their vehicles with audio piped in through the a local radio station and through WiFi. Additionally, the ceremony will be available online for those at home to watch.
The district is even looking at purchasing an additional mortar board for every graduate so they can toss those in the air.
“Then they aren’t running around trying to find their hats,” Enos said. “They can throw it, and it will be meaningful, but they don’t have to run around looking for their hat.”
While it may not be the same ceremony as in years past, it is far more than was planned just a month ago during the height of the COVID-19 concern.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Goliad Advance-Guard and can be reached at 361-343-5221, or at editor@mySouTex.com.