The school lives of many American students were put on hold over the last two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic as learning went from the classroom to the living room.
On top of that, many senior classes had their graduating classes canceled or modified in creative ways. Among those are students who attend high schools near Texas Motor Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Phoenix Raceway.
The tracks have announced they will host graduation ceremonies for area high schools throughout this month and in June.
Texas Motor Speedway will host ceremonies for all school districts in Denton County: including Aubrey ISD; Argyle ISD; Denton ISD; Krum ISD; Lake Dallas ISD; Lewisville ISD; Little Elm ISD; Northwest ISD; Pilot Point ISD; Ponder ISD; Sanger ISD and Westlake Academy.
All graduates will accept their diploma in-person while wearing academic regalia in addition to masks. After walking across a staging area, they’ll receive their diplomas in Victory Lane. Families of graduates will socially distance as they watch from their cars in the infield. The ceremonies will be broadcast on the track’s “Big Hoss” video board on the backstretch as well as via live stream.
“A great deal of thanks and appreciation for this program must go to (Denton County) Judge Andy Eads and his staff for their significant efforts in making this idea come to fruition in what was really a very short amount of time,” Eddie Gossage, President and General Manager of Texas Motor Speedway, said in a press release. “A high school graduation ceremony is such an important achievement and lifelong memory for students as well as their families and friends. We are honored by the opportunity to support each and every Denton County high school graduate as best we can in these difficult times.”
TMS is no stranger to hosting high school graduations. Gossage has turned driver introduction ceremonies into make shift graduation ceremonies for NASCAR drivers, including Erik Jones and Cole Custer.
On May 31, Daytona will host graduation ceremonies for students of Flagler-Palm Coast and Matanzas High School in Flagler County, Florida.
While details on the logistics of the ceremony are still being discussed, graduates will walk across the stage of the Ocean Center to receive their diploma before getting in a car to ride across the historic track’s start-finish line.
Each ceremony will be simulcast via radio inside the facility and live-streamed on the FlaglerSchools.com website. Only one vehicle is permitted for each graduate and their family. Additionally, all in attendance must remain in their vehicles.
“The France family has been committed to supporting our local schools in any way they can,” Chip Wile, President of Daytona International Speedway, said in a press release. “We are unique in that we can comfortably accommodate these schools and provide an unforgettable experience for these graduates. We are honored to host these graduates and their families for this special occasion.”
Pocono will host North Pocono School District’s graduation ceremony on Friday, June 12.
Family and loved ones attending the event will watch from inside their personal vehicles on the racetrack. The ceremony will be broadcast via Pocono Raceway’s internal FM radio station and on the track’s double-sided video boards. As names will be read by Principal Ron Collins, graduates’ photos will be displayed on the video boards and students will be called to drive across the Pocono Raceway start/finish line. Graduating seniors and their loved ones will be encouraged to decorate their cars in celebration of all their high school accomplishments. Guests will be permitted to attend in their vehicles or to watch the streamed graduation live on North Pocono School District’s Facebook page.
Phoenix Raceway will host Buckeye Union High School District graduates May 16. More than 1,000 graduates, inside vehicles with family members, will take to the 1-mile oval. Led by Toyota Camry pace cars, graduates will hear their names aloud on the track’s public address system as they cross the start/finish line.
“During these unprecedented times with large gatherings such as traditional high school graduations in doubt, our facility has the unique ability to provide a fun twist while safely holding an event like this,” said Phoenix Raceway President Julie Giese. “I’m proud that we can utilize Phoenix Raceway to celebrate the accomplishments of the young men and women in our community and be part of such a memorable day.”