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Crossing the Stage: MISD Celebrates its 2020 Graduates

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
McKinney High School Valedictorian Tim Jakobsen was the first McKinney ISD graduate to cross the stage during the district's three days of 2020 commencement exercises.

McKinney High School Valedictorian Tim Jakobsen was the first McKinney ISD graduate to cross the stage during the district's three days of 2020 commencement exercises.

McKinney, Texas – When McKinney High School Valedictorian Tim Jakobsen stepped onto the stage at the south end of McKinney ISD Stadium on the morning of May 28 and began to move toward MHS Principal Alan Arbabi with long, confident strides, he set in motion a joy-filled, three-day celebration of MISD graduates and their families.

McKinney High School crossed the stage first on May 28, followed by McKinney North High School on May 29 and McKinney Boyd High School on May 30.

The cheer that went up as Jakobsen exited the far side of the stage—diploma in hand—seemed to carry with it not only best wishes for Tim and his family, but an exultant catharsis in the wake of the pandemic that has kept MISD families largely isolated for the past two and half months.

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel and the seven members of the McKinney ISD Board of Trustees (President Curtis Rippee, Vice President Stephanie O’Dell, Secretary Maria McKinzie, Amy Dankel, Philip Hassler, Kathi Livezey and Lynn Sperry) were on the stage for every graduate from start to finish, and McDaniel said that he was pleased that the three days of graduations provided a personal experience for graduates and their families.

“I believe that this graduation offered some things that a more traditional graduation could not,” McDaniel said. “The parents were able to be closer to the stage, and the time that the graduate actually had on the stage was extended as parents and the professional photographers took pictures. And, I think the fact that we didn’t have to ask parents to drive to another city, worry about parking and then have to fight traffic to get home was a benefit for our families.”

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

The road to the 2020 MISD graduation was certainly not an easy one.

Earlier this spring, as thoughts turned toward graduation plans, COVID-19 social distancing requirements had ruled out any realistic chance of a traditional gathering, leaving area districts scratching their heads in search of a meaningful alternative. There was talk of virtual graduations or possibly “drive through” graduations in which graduates would remain in their vehicles. Videos of “robot” graduations from other countries began making rounds on the internet.

All of these lacked the most indispensable moment of any commencement exercise—the graduates themselves walking across a stage and receiving their diploma.

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

So, when Governor Greg Abbott loosened restrictions in early May and opened a window of opportunity for something beyond virtual or drive-through graduations, McDaniel and his team flew into action, pulling together a revised plan for three ceremonies that would allow MISD’s high school graduates and their families to maintain social distancing while also allowing seniors to complete the symbolic crossing of the graduation stage.

It took a legion of campus, athletics and administrative staff to make it all work.

But, by all accounts, the execution of the plan was a great success. Graduates and their families arrived in vehicles at staggered intervals and remained in their cars as they were guided by coaches and other members of the MISD Athletics Department into lines that snaked through the north and south home parking lots.

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

While in line, families could follow the proceedings via radio broadcast and on two large video screens in the parking lot. The traditional speeches from principals, McDaniel, class officers, valedictorians and salutatorians were prerecorded and would later be edited into a full video of each graduation.

When families arrived at the designated drop off point, they were ushered into the stadium’s west tunnel at appropriate social distancing intervals. Once inside the stadium itself, each graduate was guided toward the stage as the family moved into position for photographs. After graduates left the stage, they reunited with their families and exited through the east tunnel to the pick up zone where each family’s driver waited.

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

It turned out to be possibly the most interactive and personal graduation ceremony for families ever observed in MISD as loved ones accompanied graduates at nearly every step and stood just a few feet away as they crossed the stage.

MISD 2020 Secondary Teacher of the Year Rosalyn Govan and her family were there with Govan’s son Cooper as he crossed the stage. Her reflection on the event offered the vantage point of both a parent and a teacher.

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation—Each year, MISD staff members have the opportunity to present their child with their diploma on stage. Here MISD 2020 Secondary Teacher of the Year Rosalyn Govan stands with her son Cooper.

“As a parent, what made it really special was that our family was right there for the moment with him,” Govan said. “Having the teachers and coaches that were in the various areas cheering him on…it was really a very personal, celebratory event.

“I think for me as a teacher,” Govan added, “what was most meaningful was for those first in family kids to have that opportunity to walk the stage. For my son it was great, but I know that I did not want those babies who were first in family to graduate to miss that. I’m so thankful to our district for all of the work that went into making that happen.”

Here is a selection of photos from each high school’s graduation:

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation — May 28, 2020 at McKinney ISD Stadium

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation—Principal Alan Arbabi

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation—Head Football Coach Marcus Shavers

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation—May 29, 2020 at McKinney ISD Stadium

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation—Salutatorian Layla Zonouzy

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation—Principal Jae Gaskill

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney North High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation—May 30, 2020 at McKinney ISD Stadium

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation—Valedictorian Katherine Long

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation—Salutatorian Justin Chan with Dr. Jennifer Peirson, Principal of McKinney Boyd High School

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation—Dr. Jennifer Peirson, Principal of McKinney Boyd High School

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation—Each year MISD staff have the opportunity to present their graduating child with their diploma.

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

McKinney Boyd High School 2020 Graduation

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If you need additional assistance with the content on this page, please contact MISD Communications Department team member Shane Mauldin by phone at 469-302-4007 or by email here .

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