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San Antonio High Schools Hold Socially Distant Graduations

Graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020 have been turned on their heads due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but several San Antonio school districts have managed to host in-person ceremonies this month.

At Lanier High School’s graduation Monday, the Class of 2020 lined up to enter the Alamo Stadium on white dots spray painted six feet apart, then took seats spaced out across the football field.

The San Antonio Independent School District limited to two guests each, spreading them out in the big outdoor stadium’s stands.

Ethan Arocha, 18, said he teared up during the ceremony remembering all of the hours of study it took to cross the finish line.

“I finally succeeded and graduated,” Arocha said. “I just can't wait to go to college right now. Can't wait to meet new friends or maybe old friends from high school.”

Arocha plans to join the e-sports team at the University of Texas at San Antonio and study engineering in the fall.

“I was really hoping to see him cross stage because these kids deserve it,” said Arocha’s mom, Paula Arocha. “They got their prom taken away. They got their seniors' trip taken away, they got a lot of things taken away from them.”

Paula Arocha said she was worried about her son staying on track when schools closed in March, but he “conquered” his remote lessons and earned his diploma.

The Southwest, Harlandale, Boerne and Somerset school districts also held in-person graduations at their football stadiums in early June. Judson ISD announced plans Tuesday to host in-person ceremonies June 29 - July 1.

San Antonio’s two largest school districts, Northside and North East, decided not to hold in-person graduation ceremonies this year.

Instead, the two districts set up appointments for seniors to walk the stage of their high school and receive their diplomas individually at staggered times.

In a video announcing the decision, Northside Superintendent Brian Woods said the district’s numerous high schools and large graduating classes made social distancing during an in-person ceremony difficult.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter at @cmpcamille.

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org or on Instagram at camille.m.phillips. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.