Nearly two dozen local high schools plan to hold in-person graduation ceremonies for their graduating seniors at Texas Motor Speedway.
Each high school will announce its specific commencement schedule and details in the coming days, according to a news release jointly released by 11 Denton County school districts and charter schools.
Denton ISD will hold graduations for all five of its high schools on May 21-22, according to a separate release sent out by the district Friday morning. All district high schools will hold their ceremonies on the days and times originally scheduled.
“Graduating students and their families will receive additional logistical information about the ceremonies, such as arrival times and parking, directly from their campus leaders in the days ahead,” according to the announcement.
Students will collect their diplomas “hands-free” in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Families coming to watch the ceremonies are asked to stay in their vehicles to watch from the Texas Motor Speedway infield. Those unable to attend the ceremonies will be able to watch a livestream of the proceedings.
Those in attendance will be able to watch the ceremony on “Big Hoss,” a 12-story, 218-foot-wide video board. Students will be wearing caps, gowns and masks as they walk to receive their diplomas.
Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson said the district has ordered face masks bearing school colors and logos for each graduating senior.
Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Wilson estimated each family of a graduating senior would have roughly two cars’ worth of space, but that valuation depends on the size of the graduating class.
He said districts were expecting approximately 1,000 cars could fit into the area with the best viewing angle of the video board.
At this point, students likely will be able to receive their diplomas on the 1.5-mile track’s finish line and have pictures taken nearby.
“I think you will see this be an enviable solution around the area,” he said.
Argyle, Aubrey, Denton, Krum, Lake Dallas, Lewisville, Little Elm, Northwest, Pilot Point, Ponder and Sanger ISDs will participate in the plan, as well as Westlake Academy.
Wilson said the cost of using the Texas Motor Speedway is pretty close to the cost of using a space at the University of North Texas for commencements, which several area schools have traditionally done. He said DISD typically budgets somewhere around $40,000 for the use of UNT venues.
Texas Motor Speedway is a NASCAR arena located at 3545 Lone Star Circle in a section of Fort Worth within Denton County.