Despite pandemic, the class of 2020 gets its graduation ceremony

Seniors, staff, and family got together for a socially-distant graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 at Toyota Stadium Saturday.

“I’m really glad that Frisco went through with it and actually gave us a graduation,” graduating senior Jacqueline Kaczala said. “We had already lost so much of our senior year and the thought of not getting to do the biggest part of it was absolutely devastating. We had all been working towards this moment for 13 years, so still getting to do it really meant a lot.”

We had already lost so much of our senior year and the thought of not getting to do the biggest part of it was absolutely devastating,”

— graduating senior Jacqueline Kaczala

While the ceremony itself was quick, for some students the chance to see their classmates one last time was a welcome opportunity after months of self-isolation.

“I wasn’t feeling a lot in the heat of the moment in all honesty since it all happened very quickly,” graduating senior Sam Mills said via text. “I wanted to hug a lot of people but I had to remind myself to keep my distance. It was a very bittersweet feeling to know that this might have been the last time I spent with a lot of people I’ve met at Liberty, but I had to seize the moment and make the most of it while I could.”

Graduating senior Shivani Desai shared a similar sentiment.

“The second I gave my name card I kind of blanked out, but from what I remember it felt exciting and rewarding,” Desai said via text. “It was so great seeing all my friends again, that was really the best part, and I hope people continue to be cautious and hygienic so we can avoid having to isolate/quarantine for this long again.”

Many campuses around the country opted for online ceremonies, however Kaczala was thankful for the district’s decision to keep it in-person.

It was so great seeing all my friends again, that was really the best part,”

— graduating senior Shivani Desai

“It really sucked that we weren’t getting a prom but the main part of prom is getting to dress up and hang out with your friends and the only thing that’s really stopping us from doing that now is quarantine,” Kaczala said. “Graduation is a lot different because it’s not something you could just go out and do any day. It’s such an important moment, getting to walk across the stage, get your diploma, and be finished with high school for the rest of your life.”

The ceremony was planned with CDC guidelines in mind, and graduating senior Shivani Desai believes that the district did good on maintaining the six-feet-apart rule.

“I think they did a really good job distancing us and keeping things in order, although there were parts in the beginning where we hadn’t gotten masks yet and everyone was near each other, so that could’ve been handled better,” Desai said via text. “It was so great seeing all my friends again, that was really the best part, and I hope people continue to be cautious and hygienic so we can avoid having to isolate/quarantine for this long again.”

With 10 graduations over the course of four days, the district did what it could to provide students and their guests with a safe ceremony.

Don’t forget…no matter where you go or what you do; you will always be Liberty Redhawks,”

— principal Ashley Rainwater

“Frisco ISD is proud of the Class of 2020 and happy to be able to provide students and families with an in-person graduation experience,” Frisco ISD Chief Student Services Officer Erin Miller said via email. “Custodial staff is working diligently to disinfect Toyota Stadium between ceremonies, all graduates and staff have been provided with masks and efforts are being made to reinforce social distancing. Many students and parents have expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to celebrate with classmates, friends and family.”

Principal Ashley Rainwater stayed connected with students through social media, tweeting instructions, directions, and one last goodbye.

“We wish you nothing but the very best,” Rainwater said in a tweet. “Don’t forget…no matter where you go or what you do; you will always be Liberty Redhawks!!!”