LANCASTER, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – In Lancaster today, subtlety was not the goal as caravans led by big yellow school buses set off across the city. The goal? To surprise (and yes, delight) Lancaster High School’s graduating seniors.
“I’m so excited! This was unexpected!” said Myla Rogers over the honking horns and well wishes being yelled from administrators and teachers who were waving from their cars. “Ya know, since senior year kind of fell short, this is really appreciated!”
Myla admits that she’s had her share of tears, sharing that her last break down came just last week.
“It’s been extremely hard. We’ve worked so hard for the last four years, leading up to this moment. Graduation has been a big thing, we all talked about it… had plenty of senior meetings. And when COVID came and we realized all of this wasn’t happening: it was extremely hard,” Myla said.
But, today, the graduating senior was all smiles — and so was her mom, Staci Rogers.
“To have this happen, it’s just great. It’s wonderful,” said Staci Rogers, admitting that she has worried that she won’t have the pictures and memories to mark Myla’s senior year, as she has of her older son.
Speaking to Lancaster ISD administrators, “Thank you guys so much, it was really, really great — I’m like ‘are you getting this’ ‘are you getting it?'” she said as she encouraged Myla’s big brother to grab his phone and record video of the caravan surprise.
Meanwhile, seniors in Lancaster and across North Texas have been clamoring for in-person graduations, and Lancaster ISD may have just found a solution.
“Four of ya’ll can come to the school,” said Principal Eleanor Webb. “Walk across the stage, we’re going to get pictures, ya’ll gonna hand them their diplomas, so we gonna make something happen!”
The district is calling it a “hybrid” ceremony. Family members will hand their scholars their diplomas as they walk across the stage — each one assigned a time slot as part of a process expected to take three days.
Their classmates won’t be present and none of the traditional handshakes or hugs, but a video of the all of the ceremonies will be put together and released on the district’s website in early June.
“I just miss this for my babies!” said Webb. “And we are going to do everything we can to celebrate them in a grand style.”
And in a poignant reminder of the losses that strike deeper than lost traditions, Jakena Barber, the mother of 17-year-old Lancaster High School junior Jameela Barber who died of COVID-19 last month, sent the seniors a congratulatory note. It was included in a letter detailing the district’s plans for the ceremony.
Barber wrote: ”Keep God first… [do] not allow this tumultuous time to deter you from seeing how much you sparkle. Please remember, there is no age, race or gender safe from Covid-19. It doesn’t just affect your respiratory system; it attacks your entire body. So, please take this virus seriously. Practice social distancing at all times. Don’t let another family have to bury their loved one.”