MHS, NZHS hold outdoor graduations

Posted 5/26/20

Madisonville High School held an outdoor graduation ceremony at Mustang Stadium Thursday with a number of specifications in order to comply with the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) official guidelines for the state, as released earlier in the month to safely navigate graduation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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MHS, NZHS hold outdoor graduations

Posted

Madisonville High School held an outdoor graduation ceremony at Mustang Stadium Thursday with a number of specifications in order to comply with the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) official guidelines for the state, as released earlier in the month to safely navigate graduation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Masks and hand sanitizer were available at each entrance and every graduate had their temperature taken prior to the ceremony. Families were told to sit at least six feet apart from the nearest family or group in the stands while the graduates’ chairs on the field, along with the staff chairs on the track, were also evenly spaced six feet apart.

A number of students delivered speeches on the field, including Valedictorian Evie Rickard. Rickard reflected on everything the Class of 2020 has lost due to the virus, but reminded them of what they had accomplished as well as the importance of being together one last time in a speech that encompassed what it truly means to graduate in the age of COVID-19.

“We could not wait for that trip to Schlitterbahn, we applied for countless scholarships, hoping to hear our name called at the award ceremony, we put in countless hours of practice training for that last game that we never played,” said Rickard. “We looked forward to spending our last week of school together. We pictured ourselves walking across the stage in the presence of all our friends and family. That picture perfect year has not been a reality for the the Class of 2020.

“While the circumstances we have experienced this semester have been difficult, and have taken away moments we looked forward to, the situation in no way diminishes what we have accomplished. Our years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice have not been for nothing. Because of our hard work, we are here today, ending this chapter of our lives and beginning a new one. This chapter may be different for each individual, but we all have a future to look forward to.”

She urged her classmates to never forget the hardships of their final year at MHS and to use them to learn and grow in the future, rather than succumbing to the many disappointments and letdowns they experienced in their final semester of high school.

“As we begin this next chapter of life, I ask that we adopt a new attitude. An attitude of thankfulness and consciousness,” said Rickard. “Do not take moments for granted wishing for something else. Appreciate the people you have in life, because you never know when you may not be able to see them in person anymore. Be thankful that we all get to be together this one last time. Be thankful that today we get to celebrate our achievements and begin our next chapter in life. Be thankful that things will get better.”

Salutatorian Asa Surface and Senior Vice President Colby Sheppard also delivered brief speeches during the ceremony and Tyrese Brown opened with an introduction.

Sheppard introduced the school board and administration and thanked them for making the ceremony possible despite all of the roadblocks.

“The Class of 2020 would like to thank you for making our dream of walking the stage come true,” said Sheppard. “We appreciate your hard work that allows all the students of MCISD to have bright futures.”

Surface focused on all of the memories experienced by the class throughout their time in the district, sharing specific stories of the journey.

“Most of those lasts we did not get to witness,” said Surface. “Our senior year was cut short due to the coronavirus and we are lucky to be here because of it."

High School Principal Heath Brown also made a speech before the graduates were introduced by Assistant Superintendent Keith West. West spoke on and thanked all of many individuals who made the makeshift graduation possible.

The North Zulch Class of 2020 also held their ceremony Thursday night on their high school track. NZHS graduates and attendees also had to adhere to the TEA’s in-person, outdoor graduation requirements.

“The outdoor graduation went very well,” said NZISD Superintendent Alan Andrus. “Obviously, it was not our first option, but considering the circumstances, the ceremony was something our students will remember as a special ending to their education at NZISD. Everyone was very complimentary about the ceremony and I would like to thank all of our staff for the hard work they put into making this a big success for seniors and their families.”

The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place Friday, but was rescheduled to Thursday to accommodate possible poor weather.

Speeches were delivered by Valedictorian Ana Osth and Salutatorian Blake Housley.

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