pomp and circumstance

Superstars toast Houston high school seniors in graduation ceremony

Superstars toast Houston high school seniors in graduation ceremony

JJ Watt Man of the Year
Houston Texans superstar J.J. Watt is one of the guests appearing on the graduation ceremony. Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

The crush of COVID-19 closures has meant that high school seniors have gotten a raw deal at a time normally meant for abject celebration. The pandemic has forced many families across the nation to hold impromptu, personal parties in lieu of normal school ceremonies.

Here, the Houston Independent School District has announced a special plan for graduating seniors. Those students can gather outdoors with cap and gown at their local campuses at 6:30 pm Friday, June 5, for a citywide event thrown by Mayor  Sylvester Turner in collaboration with HISD interim superintendent, Grenita Lathan, the City of Houston, and Houston First Corporation.

The celebration will feature pre-recorded video tributes from national and local celebrities from the world of music, sports, food, and fashion, according to a statement. Celebrities scheduled to appear include astronaut Chris Cassidy, actress Chandra Wilson, Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, Astros star Carlos Correa, fashion designer Chloe Dao, MasterChef winner Christine Ha, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, and rappers 50 Cent and Slim Thug.

“The 2020 high school senior class has sacrificed and endured, and I am so proud of every one of them,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “That is why I have asked some extraordinary personalities to come together to honor and encourage these amazing students.”

The celebration will take place outdoors simultaneously on HISD high school campuses and in four other area school districts. Strict health, safety, and social distancing measures — including masks — will be required. The event will be attended by students and faculty only; family members will not be able to accompany their students. Student attendance is optional, according to the district.

The ceremony, while meant to be a celebration, is technically not a commencement — no diplomas will be issued to students during the event. The celebration can be viewed on local TV stations and streamed on several radio stations.

For more information, visit the official site.