Copperas Cove class of 2020 graduation ceremony takes three days, parade set for Saturday
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Independent School District held graduation ceremonies for nearly 500 high school seniors from Copperas Cove High School over a three-day period this week.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing Texas schools to close and students to complete classwork at home, 499 CCHS Class of 2020 graduates were able to walk the stage in Lea Ledger Auditorium in front of a limited amount of their friends and families.
Unlike other school districts, some of which moved to a completely virtual graduation or have postponed their ceremonies until summertime, CCISD allowed all 499 students to walk across the stage in front of six guests per graduate. Masks were optional for the graduates but mandatory for guests. There were seven graduates in the facility at a time.
The ceremony was split into different sessions over a period of three days- Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday- beginning at 9 a.m. and going until 6:30 p.m. each day and livestreamed on the district’s Facebook page in divided sessions. .
As they entered the auditorium, graduates were greeted with congratulatory signs on the lawn in front of Lea Ledger Auditorium, made by Copperas Cove Junior High cheerleaders.
Inside, the auditorium foyer was lined with accolades which the students had received, along with cardboard cutout figure of principal Simicek. Students and their families enjoyed posing at the displays.
For Ashli Hawkins, Mackenzie Cobe and Elijah Delacruz, graduation represents a huge milestone.
Hawkins and Cobe and Delacruz were all in DECA and walked across the stage Tuesday.
Hawkins plans to attend Huston-Tillotson University in Austin and become a physical therapist with her own practice after college. While in high school, in addition to DECA, Hawkins ran track and was an athletic trainer.
For Hawkins, even though the graduation experience was not traditional, she still was happy, because “at the same time too, it’s showing that we’ve accomplished 13 years of school, and so now we can finally move on to the next chapters in our lives.”
Hawkins also had advice for future seniors: “don’t take anything for granted within your high school years.”
Cobe said that graduation was very well organized and was appreciative of the efforts of the district administrators and staff in making it happen, even if it meant only a limited number of guests could attend.
“It was sad not having my whole family there like I wanted to, but I just know that they’re there for me anyways and I was just supported by the ones that mean the most,” Cobe said.
Cobe plans to attend Texas A&M University Central Texas before transferring to another university to go into nursing. She also had advice for future seniors: “Don’t waste time.”
Graduation will be the best feeling in the world, she added.
For Delacruz, graduation represents the closing of one chapter in his life, he said.
Delacruz plans to attend Texas State University to study entrepreneurship. In addition to DECA, Delacruz also played baseball, football, track and basketball.
“With graduation being as not the more traditional look of graduation, it was still an amazing experience, especially with all the hard work from the administrators that they put in to determine whether to allow us to walk across the stage,” Delacruz said.
Having his family at the ceremony felt great, he added.
“It made me feel trusting in the administrators, obviously, because they went through the process and hard work to get that for us which is something we’re grateful for because who wouldn’t want their family to be there to see them walk across the stage and get their diplomas?” Delacruz said.
Of the 499 CCHS graduates, 14 are going into the military. The graduates have also earned more than $4 million in scholarships.
Today, the district will be posting a “virtual graduation” of all the students, which will include speeches from Class Presidents Maddie Miller and Lacy Wheat as well as the Valedictorian Isabella Childers and Salutatorian Brandon Barker Jr., along with remarks from Superintendent Dr. Joe Burns and Principal Dr. Jimmy Shuck.
The video will be available for viewing online at the district’s YouTube channel.
On Saturday, the graduates will get to participate in a graduation parade, beginning at 9 a.m. at Ogletree Gap and going westbound on Highway 190, ending in Kempner, near CR 3300.
The district has issued instructions for the parade, for both graduates and spectators.
Each student must have a licensed driver from their household, and only the graduate and the driver will be in each vehicle. All must be inside the vehicle, according to instructions from the district.
Spectators should line the side of West Highway 190 between Matthew Spicer Road (on the right past GymKix) and F.M. 2313. Parade participants will be escorted back to Copperas Cove on F.M. 3330 to Grimes Crossing Road.