Daytona International Speedway to Host Pandemic Graduations

Many high school seniors this year have had the misfortune of missing most of their school year in exchange for a lockdown due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Also, due to regional lockdown, many of those same seniors are not going to be able to have a normal timely graduation. But, the folks at NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway have jumped in to make sure a graduation of some sort does actually happen for many lucky high school seniors.

59th Annual DAYTONA 500
59th Annual DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 26, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida. | Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Two graduation ceremonies

In a press release posted today, Daytona International Speedway announced that they partnered together with several teams to make sure graduation ceremonies take place for two local high schools.

According to Superintendent James Tager,

“We had a committee made up of students, school administrators, district staff, and a member of the School Board. All of the members on this committee were determined to find a way for our graduates to have their ceremony as close to the original May 28th date as possible.

Find a way they did. The press release goes further,

“Chip Wile, President of Daytona International Speedway adds, “The France family [NASCAR Founders] has been committed to supporting our local schools in any way they can. We are unique in that we can comfortably accommodate these schools and provide an unforgettable experience for these graduates. We are honored to host these graduates and their families for this special occasion.”

Timing is critical

The biggest concern the organizational teams had in their discussion was making sure that graduation stayed in late May. This would enable classmates to actually be able to be there for the ceremony before having to leave for college, the military, or beginning their careers. To that end, Matanzas and Flagler-Palm Coast High Schools will have graduation ceremonies on May 31st at Daytona International Speedway.

Final details being worked out

The final logistics are still being worked out for the drive-thru graduation ceremonies. But, the press release added,

“Each ceremony will be simulcast via radio inside the facility and live-streamed on the website, and there is only one vehicle permitted for each graduate and their family. Additionally, all in attendance must remain in their vehicles.”

Ultimately though, the graduates will ride across the finish line and be handed their diplomas, finally putting behind them the three hurricanes and the global pandemic they have had to endure to reach graduation. Matanzas High’s ceremony will be at 11 a.m. The second ceremony will be for Flagler-Palm Coast High School beginning at 4 p.m.

Crossing the Finish Line at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 16: Michael Annett, driver of the #1 Pilot Flying J/American Heart Association Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida | Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

A legendary racetrack and historic ceremonies

Being a senior in high school is an exciting time for most people. It is a time filled with the anticipation of the big graduation moment. For many seniors across the nation, this Coronavirus fiasco has put graduations in limbo. Thankfully, for two high schools near the legendary Daytona International Speedway, that hope and excitement has been restored. Their opportunity of driving across the finish line to receive their diplomas will be a historic moment many people will be jealous of.