Outdoor graduations planned again for Pasco high schools

Pasco County Schools announced that all its schools will host outdoor graduation ceremonies at on-campus stadiums this year. Many schools, such as the Class of 2020 at Land O’ Lakes High, held their ceremonies outdoors last summer, as well.

LAND O’ LAKES — Outdoor graduations will be held at high school stadiums for a second straight year because of issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pasco County Schools announced Feb. 25.

The district sent out a news release stating that the Class of 2021 at all schools will walk at their respective stadiums.

Most schools were forced to do the same in 2020, but during a decidedly more hectic period just months into the pandemic. Many graduation dates went from rescheduled to canceled to being held via Zoom to finally being held outdoors at stadiums.

While not ideal, last year’s outdoor graduations were operated successfully, aside from a few weather issues. Last week’s decision offers a set plan for schools, students and families to prepare for.

“We know how important it is to the graduates to walk across the stage and receive their diploma in person,” Pasco Superintendent of Schools Kurt Browning said in a press release. “And we know how important it is to have family there to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Triggering the announcement was the district learning that the Yuengling Center on the University of South Florida campus will not be available for June graduation ceremonies.

The press release states that ceremonies will be similar to last year’s in-person events, with the big change being an increase in the amount of guests each graduate could invite.

This year’s grads are permitted four guests, with two accompanying them on the field. The other two guests will be seated in the bleachers. Last year’s limit was two guests, and only parents or family members.