LHHS sets graduation June 5th

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

Not many things have been a sure thing for Liberty Hill High School seniors since they left for spring break in mid-March.

What was to be a celebratory week before kicking off the home stretch in a 13-year journey that promised to be filled with celebrations and accolades turned into unending questions and uncertainties for the Class of 2020. But now those seniors have one date to circle on their calendar and that’s the grand finale – a graduation ceremony at Panther Stadium.

District officials announced last week – following guidance issued from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) – that Liberty Hill High School graduation ceremonies will take place June 5 at Panther Stadium.

“The goal was always, if possible and if we could safely do it, to have a somewhat traditional graduation in Panther Stadium,” said Superintendent Steve Snell. “I think that’s an important rite of passage for our seniors.”

For all adjustments and changes this school year, and the oddity of how it will come to a close, capping it with a ceremony.

“The whole goal at Liberty Hill ISD is to graduate kids and prepare them for life, so even though the ceremony is just a symbol of that transformation from public school to growing up, to being an adult, I think it’s important and it brings closure to the last 13 years of their education,” Snell said.

When districts could hold graduations, if at all, was an unanswered question until last week, when TEA put out its guidance for districts that allowed in-person ceremonies, one of four options. To have in-person ceremonies districts had to schedule them outside and they could not take place before June 1. The original date for LHHS graduation was May 22.

After getting the go-ahead from state and county officials, LHISD leaders talked to other districts about their own plans, and developed a strategy for the Liberty Hill ceremony.

“We think if we give every student just a few tickets for their immediate household then we can separate them and keep them distanced all over Panther Stadium,” Snell said. “We can separate our kids and we can have as normal a ceremony as possible without the handshakes and hugs, getting everybody in and out safely.”

Measures will be in place to accommodate social distancing for family members as well as students.

To help make the final memories for the Class of 2020, district leaders have rallied staff, administrators and teachers to come up with some non-traditional events to honor seniors.

Seniors were treated to a parking lot full of cheering teachers and parents when they drove through May 8 to pick up their caps and gowns for the ceremony. As each senior pulled through the parking lot, they were greeted with signs of encouragement, cheers, applause and a chance to talk briefly – at a distance – with teachers and administrators many had not seen in a couple of months. Each left with a Chick-Fil-A lunch and the purple cap and gown for the June 5 ceremony.

Sunday, seniors will be honored once again with a community parade from 1-4 p.m. Final details are being worked out and can be found on the district or The Independent’s website.

Other celebrations will include a virtual awards ceremony, social media highlights and more yard signs for seniors.

The graduation ceremony will also be live-streamed to allow for extended family and the community to participate in the special occasion.

“Graduation ceremonies, to me as Superintendent and the staff I’ve talked to, is just a very, very enjoyable experience,” Snell said. “It’s very rewarding to see those young men and women walk across that stage and celebrate their accomplishments. To us, it’s more about celebrating the kids and their families, it will just be different this year.”

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