KILLEEN, Texas: With the possibility of not being able to walk the stage to receive their diplomas, high school seniors from Killeen ISD took to the streets Saturday and paraded through town with their friends and family.
Juanita Franklin thought of the idea and organized the parade because the situation hits close to home – her son is a senior at Harker Heights High School.
“My son is a senior and I’ve seen his moments where he was up and down,” Franklin said. “I just wanted him to be able to enjoy this with all the classmates, so it’s like his big graduation but a ride of celebration.”
The parade traveled through the Killeen area high schools before meeting at a park. There, the students released balloons with their school colors and threw their caps into the air like they would at a real graduation.
“For this to be something that the parents put all together is more than enough for me,” Shoemaker High School senior India Morgan said. “It’s not really about the celebration, it’s just about knowing I did it and I accomplished it after all the stuff we went through this year.”
Franklin’s son, Demareyo Tittle, has been thinking about this day for years.
“Ever since middle school we’ve been playing sports and stuff and like talking about our senior year and graduating,” Tittle said. “We talked all this and we can’t even graduate.”
Franklin also gave out candy wrapped to look like a diploma to the seniors.
She understands the significance of graduation for her son and his classmates.
“It’s a memory that you can’t get back,” Franklin said. “This is the only option that parents had, so we did the best we could.”
Killeen ISD is still trying to plan an in-person graduation, saying they have rented out the Bell County Expo for ceremonies in late July. They will also be holding virtual graduations from May 29-31.
Fox 44 reached out to Killeen ISD for comment but did not hear back.