RRISD Students Request Covid Safe Traditional Graduation Ceremony

RRISD Students Request Covid Safe Traditional Graduation Ceremony

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Alayna Pelayo started this petition to RRISD School Board

The Class of 2021 has been stripped of many of its typical events, such as a Homecoming dance, a Homecoming Parade, two proms, Project Graduation, and now traditional graduation. Currently, what has been planned, is the same “Graduation Walk” that occurred last year. In this instance, graduates will simply drive to Kelly Reeves to wait in a long line just to walk across the stage for a photo. While more guests are being allowed this year to watch the walk, it does not allow for the Valedictorian, Salutatorian, Top Ten, or the Student Body Officers an opportunity to speak about their experiences as leaders to their peers. It also does not allow Seniors one last opportunity to celebrate as one student body for our thirteen years of hard work and accomplishments. It does not provide us an opportunity to sit (socially distanced) alongside our friends with whom we have grown up and endured countless hours of homework and built lifelong memories. 

Many students have been discouraged by the idea of not having traditional graduation after working so diligently for four years at their respective high schools. It is even more disheartening for our RRISD seniors and families to watch as surrounding districts are planning traditional, masked, sit-down graduations for their students. Even those with MUCH smaller stadiums are making it work. We have verified these traditional graduations are happening in Leander, Hays, and Lake Travis ISD. We anticipate that Georgetown and Dripping Springs ISDs will follow suit as they held graduations last year under even more challenging Covid-19 restrictions. Even the University of Texas at Austin, with thousands of students, allows for a traditional ceremony at their stadium.

The following calculations show that we can meet strict Covid-19 guidelines while having our traditional graduation. Currently, Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex has a maximum seating capacity of 11,000 and if we assumed a 75% occupancy, this would provide us with 8,250 seats. Whether class sizes are 600 or 900, that would allow each student 9 to 13 guests which are way more seats than what is needed. A typical football field is 120x53.3 yards (with end zones) or 360x160 feet, giving an area of 57,600 square feet. Even if we only used 3/4 of the field and allowed 1/4 to be used for the stage, we would still have 43,200 square feet. If we ensured students are spaced at least 6 feet apart (thus each student taking up 36 square feet), we would still accommodate up to 1200 graduates, far more than we have in any RRISD graduating class. Based on these calculations, a lack of space does not prove to be an issue. 

We are pleading for our district to please have compassion with us, and to hold our graduation in a traditional format- all while meeting Covid-19 standards and keeping us all safe. 

We did reach out to the RRISD Acting Superintendent with the same plea, however, we were told they would continue with the plan for the “Graduation Walk”. They state they have heard from parents and students that the “Graduation Walk” is the preferred ceremony. This is your opportunity to voice your opinion on how you would like your Graduation to be remembered. If you are a RRISD Class of 2021 parent or student who would prefer a traditional graduation ceremony, seated on the Kelly Reeves field, while adhering to covid guidelines (75% capacity and 6’ social distancing), please sign this petition.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!