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After pushback from seniors, Round Rock ISD will offer option for traditional graduation ceremonies with COVID-19 precautions

Some RRISD seniors started a petition to have traditional graduation ceremonies rather than just commencement walks.

ROUND ROCK, Texas — Editor's note: The above video was published on March 21, before Round Rock ISD made its decision.

Round Rock ISD students Alayna Pelayo and Hart Black are rejoicing after the school district decided to provide the option for traditional graduation ceremonies this spring.

Pelayo and Black are Westwood High School seniors who recently started a petition against commencement walks, advocating for traditional graduation ceremonies. 

RELATED: Round Rock ISD seniors petition for a traditional graduation ceremony with COVID-19 precautions

In the petition, Pelayo and Black said the class of 2021 has been stripped of many right-of-passage events like prom, the homecoming dance, the homecoming parade and now graduation. The pair planned to present a proposal to the RRISD Board of Trustees on Thursday with a traditional graduation plan, but the school district surprised them with the email below on Monday. 

Credit: Alayna Pelayo

"As the Class of 2021 gets set to graduate, Round Rock ISD has scheduled two options for students at Cedar Ridge, McNeil, Stony Point, Round Rock, and Westwood high schools to choose how they would like to commemorate their milestone moment," RRISD said in the email to students. 

"Seniors and their families have the option to participate in a traditional ceremony in the morning, with students seated on the football field for graduation speeches and recognitions before walking the stage to receive their diplomas, or a commencement walk in the evening. At the traditional ceremonies, families and guests are seated in the stands and will not be allowed onto the field. View the 2020 Senior Commencement Walk experience. Early College and Success high schools will have traditional ceremonies," the district continued.

RRISD said all events will be held at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex and seniors will receive a survey to pick either the morning graduation ceremony or the evening commencement walk.

The graduation dates for the RRISD Class of 2021 are:

  • Early College High School – May 24: traditional ceremony beginning at 8 a.m.
  • Success High School – May 24: Traditional ceremony beginning at 6 p.m.
  • Round Rock High School – May 25: Traditional ceremony beginning at 8 a.m.; commencement walk from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Stony Point High School – May 26: Traditional ceremony beginning at 8 a.m.; commencement walk from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
  • McNeil High School – May 27: Traditional ceremony beginning at 8 a.m.; commencement walk from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
  • Cedar Ridge High School – May 28: Traditional ceremony beginning at 8 a.m.; commencement walk from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
  • Westwood High School – May 29: Traditional ceremony beginning at 8 a.m.; commencement walk from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

RRISD said seniors are allowed to bring up to 10 guests to either the ceremony or walk and all guests are asked to wear masks, practice appropriate social distancing and remain together throughout the ceremony.

Credit: Alayna Pelayo

Pelayo and Black said they're overjoyed that their voices were heard.

"I am so grateful for all the support we received throughout this endeavor. I am truly overwhelmed with gratitude for those who stood up for our seniors. Thank you to RRISD and the trustees for making this event possible, and thank you to all the media outlets who shared our story," Pelayo said.

"I am completely ecstatic and blown away. Thank you to the Board of Trustees, Dr. Presley and the thousands of people who supported our fight for change. Lastly, I am truly grateful to the media, who have given us a voice in Central Texas," Black said.

WATCH: Round Rock students petition for in-person graduation 


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