Fort Worth ISD plans to hold graduation in person at fields across the district. (Fort Worth ISD)

High school has been anything but normal for Fort Worth residents Lauren Hammer, Roderic Poole and Elizabeth Briley.

Since last year, the pandemic has disrupted their education and the final two years of their high school experience. But when Lauren, Roderic and Elizabeth toss their caps in the air, their graduations will look like those held before 2020.

Fort Worth resident Lauren Hammer, left, graduates from Weatherford High School on Saturday. (Courtesy of Lauren Hammer)

“My graduation is actually pretty normal. It is outside at our football stadium, and we can only have 10 guests, and I’m pretty sure our seats are going to be 6 feet apart,” said Lauren, a 17-year-old who attends Weatherford High School. “This is more normal than most people.”

They are part of the thousands of Tarrant County students graduating this month and throughout June. School districts plan to hold their ceremonies at a variety of locations throughout the county. Many will require attendees to practice social distancing and wear masks, while others will have fewer restrictions.

Fort Worth ISD plans to hold graduation ceremonies at fields throughout the district. Roderic, an Eastern Hills High School senior, will graduate at Clark Stadium

“Everybody has graduated in person. It would be kind of weird all of a sudden out of nowhere to not do it because it would take away what makes graduation special,” Roderic, 17, said.

Six districts plan to hold graduation at Globe Life Field, where the Texas Rangers play in Arlington. Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD plans to hold its ceremonies at the Rangers’ old ballfield, now called Globe Life Park. 

Major League Baseball said this is the second consecutive year high school seniors will graduate at Globe Life Field. In 2020, more than 25,000 students graduated at the Texas Rangers baseball field.

Where Tarrant County school districts are graduating

  • Crowley ISD, Mansfield ISD, Keller ISD, Birdville ISD, Kennedale ISD and Everman ISD will have their ceremonies at Globe Life Field.
  • Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD will have graduation at Globe Life Park.
  • Fort Worth ISD doing it at its own fields
  • Aledo ISD will have graduation at Bearcat Stadium.
  • Arlington ISD and Burleson ISD high school seniors will walk the stage at AT&T Stadium.
  • Azle ISD and Lake Worth ISD will hand out diplomas at Fort Worth Convention Center.
  • Carroll ISD’s graduation will be at Dragon Stadium
  • Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD will have graduation at Dickies Arena and Chisholm Trail High School’s Jared Hardy Performing Arts Center.
  • Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s two high schools will have graduation at Mustang Panther Stadium.
  • Each of Northwest ISD’s high schools will hold their ceremonies at their campuses.
  • White Settlement ISD seniors will graduate at Dickies Arena.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its masking guidance, allowing fully vaccinated Americans to not wear a facial covering. Despite that, MLB will require attendees of graduation ceremonies at Globe Life Field to wear a mask. 

“The Rangers will work with each school and school district to implement additional health and safety guidelines specific to their events,” a news release from MLB said.

Keller ISD is among the districts that will hold graduation at the baseball stadium in Arlington. Its four high schools will hold their ceremonies on May 30. Keller ISD spokeswoman Shellie Johnson said attendees will be required to social distance, students will be spaced out and each student can only invite a limited number of guests.

One big advantage Globe Life Field has over other outdoor venues is its retractable roof, which can be used in case of inclement weather, Johnson said.

It was important to have graduation in person because, Johnson said, “it’s a time-honored tradition that both students and their parents earn.”

Elizabeth, 18, attends Covenant Classical School, a private Christian school in west Fort Worth. Elizabeth’s school will have an in-person ceremony at a local church. She described it as a “pretty normal graduation” because there won’t be many restrictions and it will be held inside at the same place graduation is typically held.

Like Roderic, Elizabeth said graduating in person was crucial because it’s such a major moment in their lives.

“It’s taken us 12 years to get to where we are, and walking across the stage to graduate is almost like a right of passage now,” she said. “This is the hardest I’ve ever worked for something in my life, and I think that’s worth celebrating. Doing it in person helps really bookmark the memory and makes it more special.”

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at jacob.sanchez@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter.

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Jacob Sanchez

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His work has appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram, The Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer. He is a graduate of St. Edward’s University.

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