Class of 2021 graduation ceremony adapted to “Graduation Walk” event

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Photo Courtesy of Emma Davis

Class of 2020 alumni Emma Davis (left) receives the cover of her high school diploma at the Class of 2020 “Graduation Walk” event alongside her mother and Bowie science teacher Jessica Davis (middle) and Principal Mark Robinson (right). Although she did enjoy the adapted graduation ceremony, Davis expressed her hope that more teachers are allowed to attend the “Graduation Walk” for the Class of 2021 as she believes it would make the event more enjoyable and personable.

Cade Spencer, Editor-in-Chief

Traditionally, the official senior class graduation event is held at the Frank Erwin Center, welcoming thousands of students, family members, and friends to attend. However, on March 1, 2021, Principal Mark Robinson announced in a Bowie Star Newsletter that graduation would be adapted as a “Graduation Walk” to be held on Thursday, June 3 starting at 7:00 p.m. 

“I do not mind a graduation walkthrough, for I am actually glad that we will get to do something in-person,” senior Evelyn Batista said. “I have tried to have a positive outlook on this year since it just is what it is.”

After the closure of campus on March 13, 2020, the Class of 2020 also attended a “Graduation Walk” held at Burger Center. Similarly to the Class of 2021, the walkthrough comes in response to COVID-19 safety concerns over the dense population that usually attends the traditional graduation event. 

“When comparing the stage-walk-only graduation to a normal graduation, I would say that there are only a few differences from a “graduate” perspective,” Class of 2020 alumni Emma Davis said. “You still get to wear your cap and gown and walk the stage like a normal graduation, but there is just no ceremony or peers to enjoy the experience with.”

As explained in the Bowie Star Newsletter, on the day of the graduation walk, students will be invited to arrive at the Burger Center in staggered groups by last name to walk the stage individually, obtaining a cover of their diploma. At the event, proper social distancing and mask guidelines will be expected to be adhered to. 

“My favorite part about the stage walk is that I actually got to see a few of the amazing Bowie staff, including Academic Dean Susan Leos and Principal Mark Robinson, that I thought I may not get to see again for a long time,” Davis said. “I also enjoyed getting to participate in some sort of formal graduation, even if it was not the traditional ceremony.”

In addition to an update on graduation, Robinson announced in the letter that the status of the traditional Prom dance for the Class of 2021 is pending. As of now, Prom is still scheduled to be held on Saturday, April 17 at the Renaissance Austin Hotel at the Arboretum

“If prom is cancelled, I honestly would not really care,” Batista said. “I might make alternate plans, like taking Prom pictures dressed up, but I also do not know if it would be worth it to buy a dress if I am just going to wear it to take pictures.”

In order to ensure student and staff safety is maintained effectively, Robinson announced that the administration will be following guidelines released by Austin Public Health and the Austin Independent School District to reach a conclusion on the status of Prom. 

“The circumstances of this past year have meant that for our seniors and their parents, this final year in high school has been a pale imitation of what they hoped for,” Robinson said in his letter. “And yet, the Class of 2021 continues to demonstrate overall resilience and positivity.”

Additional Reporting by Faith Lawrence

Class of 2020 alumni Emma Davis poses alongside Academic Dean Susan Leos at her “Graduation Walk.” As expressed by Davis, her favorite aspect of the adapted graduation was the opportunity to see Bowie staff that she had not seen since the closure of campus on Friday, March 13. (Photo Courtesy of Emma Davis)