JPS parents, students disappointed in graduation plans

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Graduating seniors in the Jackson Public School District are unhappy with graduation plans.

Starting May 26, seniors throughout the district are scheduled to walk across the stage to get their name called, and watch it at a later date.

The stands will be empty and families will have to watch from home or listen in their cars.

Lataska Johnson, mother of Forest Hill senior Asijah Marco, says she’s upset they can’t actually be there to watch them walk across the stage.

“I understand JPS is kind of big, but I think if it was just so important to certain people, that they would have made the effort somehow to me, even if we could do it one at a time or space out.”

Jim Hill senior Kierra Fox said she’s her mother’s only child and the moment can never be replaced. Fox said when her mother found out she was devastated.

“At the end when we walk off the stage, they could at least be standing right there so they can see us and not from the car, because when we get done walking off the stage we have to go to our car and get back in,” Fox explained. “That’s not how you want to see your child graduate.”

A petition going around the Internet is calling on Jackson Public Schools and the city to let parents into the stadium. Fox believes the district could have asked students for their input.

Fox said, “They could have asked us even though it probably wouldn’t have changed anything, but our opinion still counts since it’s our graduation.”

JPS released a statement about the concerns and wanted to clarify the stage walks during the week of May 26 is not the actual graduation:

“Please know that we share in the disappointment that our graduates and families will not enjoy what many of us experienced at the end of our senior year.  With over 1,500 graduates this year, our team developed the plan based on local, state, and health officials’ guidance on social distancing and crowd gatherings. It’s important to clarify that the activity at the Mississippi Veteran’s Memorial Stadium is not the graduation ceremony. This year’s graduation ceremony is virtual and will be produced using a compilation of the recordings of our graduates walking across the stage, along with the graduation speeches that will be pre-recorded.  The official graduation ceremony will be aired on the date and time of each school’s scheduled graduation and families are encouraged to watch and celebrate together.  It is during that time that the diplomas will be formally conferred by the Board of Trustees and graduates will be instructed to turn their tassels and should toss their caps in unison, as we will all celebrate a great milestone…their high school graduation…  
Thank you for your understanding as we seek to maintain safety and to provide closure for graduates and their families during these difficult times.”

Jackson Public School District

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