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Take a look inside PAISD’s graduation plans, including private ceremony & community parade

The Port Arthur Independent School District is three days shy of celebrating the class of 2020 in a never-before-seen way.

The graduation commencement ceremony on Saturday is a combination of a private ceremony and a community parade.

Memorial High School Principal Dr. Glenn Mitchell said it is going to be an exciting day filled with pride, honor and happiness.

“With graduation almost here we’ve been planning and planning and planning to make this as positive an experience as possible,” he said. “It’s really exciting to see it begin to unfold and see all the pieces fall into place. It’s very different from anything I’ve seen in my many years of experience, but under the conditions that we are involved in, it’s actually going to be very exciting.”

Students will begin the day with a private ceremony inside Memorial High School stadium at 8:30 a.m.

Safety protocols include placing students and attendees 6 feet apart during and providing masks to all graduates upon arrival to their seats.

Following the ceremony, graduates will exit the stadium, enter their vehicles and head to the corner of 9th Avenue and Staff Sgt. Lucian Adams Drive for the 10 a.m. Parade of Graduates.

Upon arrival to the “staging” area, the graduate will exit the vehicle, walk the stage, take a photo and receive their diploma.

Mitchell said separating the event into two different locations allows for the intimacy of a small ceremony and the celebration of a large one.

“The first part of our graduation is at Memorial Stadium, and this is where students can all be together and see each other again for probably the last time,” he said. “After that, they will leave the stadium, the principals will give their last charge for the class of 2020 and send them out with a bang.”

Also heading out with a bang is the first graduating class of the Woodrow Wilson Early College High School.

The class of 2020 includes 63 graduates. Thirty-six will walk with their associate’s degree and 27 will complete their degree before Lamar State College Port Arthur’s graduation in July.

Wilson Principal Gloria Dodson said this is one of the most exciting things that is happening, not only because it’s the first class, but because of all the accomplishments of the group.

“We are so excited and we are feeling incredibly proud of them,” Dodson said.

Before this weekend’s send off, Mitchell has one final message for the entire class of 2020 —“Chance favors a prepared mind. Lean not unto thine own understanding.”

“We certainly don’t understand the what’s or the why’s of this situation, but we know without adherence that we are all in jeopardy if we don’t follow the rules,” Dodson said. “On a positive note, we all want our youngsters to feel as if they are going to have a fresh start even amid the chaos.”

Graduates will be provided two printed guest tickets for the private ceremony.

During the parade, each graduate will be allowed one vehicle with a limit of up to five guests in the vehicle.

Staging areas where students will receive their diplomas are designated by last name.

  • Memorial High School Parking Lot F — last name A-C; arrive no later than 9:15 a.m., last name H-L; arrive no later than 12:30 p.m., last name S-Z; arrive not later than 3:30 p.m.
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Church — last name D-G; arrive no later than 11 a.m., last name M-R; arrive no later than 2 p.m.

The stadium ceremony and parade of graduates will be streamed live at paisd.org.