May 1, 2020
Dear Senior Parents and Students:
We are pleased to announce that we have a unique opportunity to honor our seniors for 2020! Westlake Academy will host our graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 28th at
7:00 pm at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS), providing families and students with a once-in-a-lifetime venue that offers ample space to ensure all health precautions are met during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In coming to this decision, we reviewed the graduation survey feedback and believe this is the best option given that our traditional venue could not accommodate us with the safe (social) distancing requirements and the common space configuration of the Hurst Conference Center. A variety of factors, variables, and alternatives were discussed before we chose to utilize TMS. By holding our graduation in this more open air type environment, we can maximize the safety of all attending. This includes our staff as many of our teachers and administrators will also be helping with the celebration. We also discussed that pushing the date out to July or August may put us in the midst of a resurgence of the virus as this is being discussed by our public health officials. If that were to occur, we may be faced with a virtual graduation as our only option. We heard from both parents and students that a virtual graduation was your last choice.
Our goal is to help honor those students and their families who have worked so hard over their educational journey and to mark the occasion with an in-person ceremony. We are fortunate that such a unique venue is available to us as it will certainly be a graduation to remember!
While we don’t have all the details quite yet, we wanted to pass along what we know as of today.
During the ceremony, family and friends will remain in their vehicles while parked on the TMS infield as the speedway’s “Big Hoss,” a 12-story-tall, 218-foot wide video board will broadcast the event to ensure that every graduate is seen by the attendees both in-person and through streaming video. Diplomas will be presented in a hands-free method to respect social distancing guidelines outlined by public health officials. Graduates will wear traditional academic regalia as well as masks (provided by Westlake Academy) and walk across a staging area to receive their diplomas. Please know that a professional photographer will be on hand to take their photo and the ceremony will be recorded and live streamed.
Our students and families will receive additional logistical information about the ceremony, such as arrival times, parking, and commencement programming in due course. In addition, WA staff is completing the plans to hold a modified Senior awards and brick laying event on campus. More information on this to come next week.
While we know that this is not what we all envisioned for graduation at the beginning of this school year, we, like other schools across the state have been faced with difficult decisions regarding in-person celebrations. Please know that we are putting every effort into celebrating our students and their accomplishments. We hope that this will be something you look back on as a creative way to end your high school academic journey and know that we are proud of your resilience and determination as we are all adjusting to the current times.
We are all in this together!
Amanda DeGan, Superintendent
Mechelle Bryson, Executive Director
Stacy Stoyanoff, Secondary Principal
James Owen, DP Coordinator