2020 District Graduation Plans
The majority of Florida school districts are hopeful of graduation plans, and have pushed their in person graduation ceremonies to July + August.
Broward schools is holding virtual graduation ceremonies for their seniors, and planning to include speeches and a roll call of graduate. Each will be broadcast live on BECON-TV as well as streamed.
Virtual meetings were held with seniors from Miami-Dade to determine the best way to celebrate graduation. They are planning two ceremonies- one virtual and one in person when conditions improve.
Graduation Ceremonies will be held at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. Each graduate will have his or her name called. Graduates will cross the field to home plate to have their photo taken with their principal (social distancing will be required in photos) and each graduate will appear on the stadium’s jumbotron. Ceremonies will be livestreamed on the school district’s YouTube channel.
Leon County is hosting a drive-in graduation ceremony at Donald L. Tucker Civic Center for its 2,500 seniors. The ceremony will be simulcast over the radio, with every senior’s name being read aloud, while their picture flashes on a jumbotron. One car will be allowed for each graduate and windows must remain up.
Students from Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas high schools will graduate by driving a lap at the home of the Daytona 500. Each graduate's family will be allowed one car, and everyone must stay inside their vehicle. They’ll line up, drive over the finish line to accept their diploma and take a victory lap. The ceremony will be simulcast via radio inside the facility and live-streamed on the FlaglerSchools.com website.
Hernando County is celebrating their seniors with a “drive-thru senior ‘roll’.” Each school will have a different route for seniors to travel as they are cheered on by friends, family and staff.
Marion County school officials are making plans to have traditional, though scaled back, graduation ceremonies for their eight high schools sometime between late May and July. Morning ceremonies are under consideration, and students will be seated 6 feet apart. Each student would receive just two tickets for family members, who would also be seated 6 feet apart. There would be no student processional. Board members are expected to discuss the proposals Thursday. Ocala Star-Banner. Some specialized schools in Citrus County are planning alternative graduation ceremonies. Citrus County Chronicle.
The Nassau County School District will hold traditional graduation ceremonies June 22-25, if the CDC guidelines on social distancing have been relaxed. If they haven’t, the district’s backup dates are July 13-16. WJXT. Graduation ceremonies for Citrus County high school seniors have been postponed until sometime this summer and school proms have been canceled. The district is planning drive-through graduations May 26-28. Citrus County Chronicle. Lee County high school seniors are losing their scheduled graduations, but will be honored with two graduations: virtual ceremonies in June and traditional ceremonies in July if CDC guidelines permit. WINK. WFTX. WZVN.
Palm Beach County
Tentative dates are set for virtual graduation ceremonies for all 32 Palm Beach County School District high schools, officials announced on Wednesday. Three will be held on Thursday, May 26, and they’ll continue almost nightly until the last two on Friday, June 5. School board members said the online ceremonies do not preclude other ceremonies if guidelines against large gatherings are loosened sometime this summer. Palm Beach Post. WPTV. Graduating seniors at Miami-Dade County School District high schools will get two ceremonies, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced after consulting with senior class leaders. Virtual ceremonies will be held May 26-June 3, and more traditional ceremonies will be scheduled when it’s safe to have larger gatherings. Miami Herald. WSVN. Virtual graduation ceremonies will be held from June 15 to 28 for Broward County high schools, and streamed live. Caps and gowns will be issued for students to wear if they choose. “We know photos of you in your cap and gown are important,” said Superintendent Robert Runcie in a video message to students. “So all graduation regalia will be distributed to seniors in May to enable you to take graduation pictures with your family.” Sun Sentinel. WLRN. WPLG. Sarasota County school officials are planning traditional graduation ceremonies between July 16 and 26, if it’s safe to do so, and also wants to stage school dances for seniors in that time window. WWSB. Seniors at all but one Bay County high schools will get their traditional graduation ceremonies this summer in accordance with CDC guidelines, district officials have announced. And all final exams have been canceled. WMBB.
The Hillsborough County School District plans to hold high school commencement ceremonies between July 13 and 21 at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The new schedule assumes that the Centers for Disease Control guidance against mass gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic will have been lifted by then. If not, the district could turn to what it’s called the “last resort”: virtual ceremonies. WTVT. Florida Politics. Gradebook. WFLA. Manatee County school officials have postponed graduation ceremonies until the end of July or early August. “That’s the furthest we could push it out without getting into the start of the new school year,” said district spokesman Mike Barber. Graduations had been scheduled May 13-16. Bradenton Herald. Pasco County school Superintendent Kurt Browning said graduations are being planned for August, and a virtual celebration will be held at the end of May. Tampa Bay Times. Sarasota County school officials said they are also looking at dates in July for graduations, but they’ll also plan virtual ceremonies as backup. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lee County school officials are considering virtual graduation ceremonies for high school seniors or more traditional events in July with social distancing, or a combination of the two. Fort Myers News-Press. Virtual graduations are no longer being considered for Martin County high schools after students and parents objected. Instead, in-person graduations will be scheduled sometime this summer. TCPalm. Okaloosa County school officials will get feedback from students and their parents before deciding what form graduations will take. Northwest Florida Daily News. Several other west-central Florida school districts have update their graduation plans. WFTS.
St. Lucie County
The St. Lucie County School District becomes the second system this week to announce that graduation ceremonies will be held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. The ceremonies for the eight St. Lucie County high schools will be held May 26-28 and, like the ones in Palm Beach County, will be broadcast on the district’s webpage and on various TV channels. “Although we are disappointed that we will not be able to hold our traditional graduations in May, we are committed to commemorating this very special occasion in a unique and memorable way,” said Superintendent Wayne Gent. TCPalm. Indian River Charter High School has moved its graduation ceremony from May 16 to June 27. The county’s public high schools, Vero Beach and Sebastian River, had earlier reset their ceremonies for June 12 and 13, respectively.
Seminole County high schools will hold a free dance for seniors June 11 and graduation ceremonies June 12, if social distancing guidelines have been lifted. If the guidelines are still in place, the ceremonies will be pushed to mid-July, said Superintendent Walt Griffin. Other central Florida school districts have not announced their plans for end-of-the-year celebrations. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. WOFL. WESH.
CBS4 and NBC9 have partnered with Alachua County Public Schools to create and televise Operation Graduation - a virtual commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020. The station will produce and air half-hour graduation programs for each of our seven high schools that will include the names and senior photos (if available) of the graduates from each school. The videos will air on CBS4 during an evening in late May or early June, and afterwards will be provided to the graduates and their families as well.
All graduation ceremonies will be held at Memorial Field in Bonifay. This venue will allow the most family members to attend while still practicing social distancing. They will be providing a live stream of each ceremony on the school’s Facebook page for those who are unable to attend. In addition to graduation ceremonies, each school will be honoring the Class of 2020 with a parade at the school on the evening of their originally scheduled graduation.
Other ways Florida is recognizing their seniors:
Schools around Florida are placing yard signs at the homes of their seniors to recognize and honor them.
Lighting up stadiums
Manatee County is lighting up all six of its high school football stadiums in recognition of the Class of 2020. An effort dubbed “Shine on Class of 2020,” the lights will go on at 8:20p (20:20 military time) and stay on for 20 minutes. The district is encouraging family and friends of seniors to turn on their outdoor lights at the same time or drive by the stadiums to recognize the graduates, although the campuses will remain closed.
Crowds of social distanced Teachers/Staff from their schools greeting them with cheers and recognition as they pick up their cap and gowns
School districts are taking to social media to share posts about their graduation seniors, recognizing their accomplishments and college decisions
Adopt A Senior Program
A Facebook group started in Volusia County allows community members to adopt a senior and send them clothes, gift cards and words of encouragement to help them get ready for the next chapter in their lives.
Drive By Parades
Seniors in some counties were honored with processions of vehicles. In Miami-Dade County, a caravan of more than 40 faculty and staff from Our Lady of Lourdes Academy drove 258 miles to pass by the homes of 188 students, the Miami Herald reported. They honked horns and banged on pots and pans to try to lift the seniors’ spirits.
Similarly, the Osceola High School Class of 2020 was celebrated with a parade in downtown Kissimmee after the county cancelled graduation ceremonies.
Senior showcase in Bradford County
Florida senior stories:
Palm Beach County Senior Ka’Nedria Boldin started a Facebook group on April 19, “Adopt A Palm Beach County High School Senior.” It now has nearly 5,000 members. By Thursday, it had arranged the “adoptions” of more than 660 graduating seniors around the county, with more coming each day.
Diana Ward, a Citrus High School senior dual enrolled at the College of Central Florida, is sewing masks for her community.