Drive-Ins, Parades, and Other Clever Ways Schools Are Doing 2020 Graduation

Schools are getting creative with their plans.

Graduation for the Class of 2020
HENDERSON, NEVADA - APRIL 17: Principal Derek Bellow jokes around as students drive by during a celebration to recognize seniors in the class of 2020 at Liberty High School as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on April 17, 2020 in Henderson, Nevada. Students remained in vehicles as they drove through the school parking lot to maintain social distancing guidelines as they were greeted and cheered by their teachers and staff. On Friday, the Clark County School District announced that it was postponing graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020. Traditional activities for high school seniors have been canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11th. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

We are approaching the end of the school year and nearly every state has declared students will complete the semester via distance learning. Unfortunately, that means a lot of students, teachers, and families are left wondering … what can we do about graduation for the class of 2020?

Whether you’re looking to honor high school seniors with their cap and gowns and diplomas, or the students promoting from elementary or middle school, we’ve gathered together some ideas for what schools are doing for graduation ceremonies this year.

Drive-In Graduation

Some schools are renting out drive-in movie theaters as an option for a social distancing graduation. A community in Wichita, Kansas has already rented a theater. “As they enter into the Starlite drive-in, they can see names and congratulations and things like that,” organizer Thomas Montiel said.

Another school in Pennsylvania is considering the same. They are still debating if students will be able to exit the cars to walk across the stage and receive their diploma.

Individual Graduations

Other schools are opting for in-person individual graduations. The senior and a small group of family members are invited to the auditorium. Once they arrive, they will have to don masks and first pass through a temperature screening. The senior then walks the stage, has their tassel moved, and stops for a photographic moment.


Clinton High School in Clinton, Arkansas plans to do just this. “Each scheduled, individual ceremony will be allotted 15 minutes,” their Superintendent says. They will then incorporate the photos into a full length video that they will air at a drive-in theater like the idea above. “This is a groundbreaking way of celebrating graduation. The Class of 2020 will be making history.”

A school in Gulfport, Mississippi is doing the same. After recording each individual ceremony, they will then air the full video on graduation day. “Students will be able to watch their own graduation for the first time in the presence of family.”

Virtual Graduations

Some districts are taking their graduation completely virtual for families. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho recently revealed virtual graduation plans to his schools and students. He said, “I know your hearts have been broken with the unknown, not knowing if there would be a graduation this year. We are currently planning a virtual celebration ceremony of all of your accomplishments, individually celebrating each one of you.” Options include Zoom or other software that allows for individuals to login virtually from their homes.

Postponing Graduation Until Later

Some communities still want the graduation ceremony of years past. Thus, some schools are planning to postpone an official graduation until summer or even Thanksgiving. Spring ISD in Houston, TX is planning a virtual graduation in June and an in-person ceremony in July.

Promotion Videos and Parades

Seniors aren’t the only ones with graduation woes. Some schools are looking for ways to celebrate those students promoting from kindergarten, or into middle school or high school. In our Principal Life Facebook group, one member shares their plans for a promotion video. “The plan is to have kids come up and take pics in their cap and gowns at scheduled times. Sanitize in between. We’ll give them an award and take pics from at least 6 feet away. We’ll put together a slideshow and share it on our website and Facebook.”

Another leader plans a parade. “We are planning a 5th grade promotion parade around the school for our students. Also mailing letters and cards to each of our students.”

What are do you plan on doing about graduation for the class of 2020? Share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE  and Principal Life Facebook groups.

Also, ways people are celebrating the class of 2020 .

Drive-Ins, Parades, and Other Clever Ways Schools Are Doing 2020 Graduation