ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Schools across Tampa Bay are preparing for virtual graduation ceremonies. But one Pinellas County student is urging district officials to consider other options.
St. Petersburg High School senior Meira Kowalski started a petition on change.org asking the Pinellas County School Board to consider postponing their commencement ceremony, rather than making it virtual.
“I created a petition to reach out to Dr. Grego, the superintendent of Pinellas County Schools, basically asking to postpone the graduation ceremony,” said Kowalski. “I think graduation is an event that is so big, it deserves to be held no matter the date and we will be back probably in December. I personally would be fine with a December graduation. Something in-person and with all our family and friends around.”
Currently, the district plans to host a traditional in-person graduation later this summer and is only planning a virtual ceremony as a backup.
“The desire for everyone involved is to have a traditional, in-person ceremony. With the uncertainty of when this could occur as the safety, health and well-being of our students and families is of the utmost importance, the district will ensure planning for both in-person and virtual commencement ceremonies which respect school traditions to the greatest extent possible,” said Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Grego in a statement on the district’s website.
Kowalski, who plans to attend Vanderbilt University in the fall, tells WFLA.com, she hopes to appeal to the Pinellas County School Board.
“It was such an abrupt ending to our senior year and I think that’s why virtual graduation was so hard to wrap my head around. It would be devastating to have that online, sitting in bed or on the couch. We just want the opportunity to move our tassel across and walk across the stage,” said Kowalski.
Kowalski’s petition has almost 5,000 signatures.
“I was not expecting the support that I received from it. Support from everybody in the county, as well as other counties, in other states and even out of the country. All of the support, it really made me as well as others feel supported by the community and that we aren’t alone in this.”