NewsPolk County


Polk County seniors given options on how to graduate

Posted at 3:40 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 19:37:42-04

BARTOW, Fla. — COVID-19 has caused all sorts of cancellations, including traditional graduations.

Instead, schools are now moving towards options like virtual ceremonies or postponing the events altogether.

Polk County Public Schools is giving the option to 2020 seniors by sending out a survey to those who are missing out.

“We are all devastated, of course. We were all looking forward to this year,” Czerise Villiers said.

POLK NEWS | The latest headlines from Polk County

ABC Action News met with three Polk County seniors over Zoom Monday morning, all saying they’re missing so much at the end of their senior year, a year that is supposed to be incredibly memorable.

“Just seeing everything just slowly and slowly get canceled was heartbreaking to see,” Diana Garcia, who attends Fort Meade High School, said.

For Ruben Cienfuegos he will be the first in his family to both graduate high school and attend college. He said to miss out on such a celebration has been especially difficult.

“You know once high school ends, and we go into the real world, and it just kind of sucks I won't be able to enjoy those last couple of months of school,” Cienfuegos said.

SATs and ACTs have been canceled, and some colleges are instead taking unofficial transcripts. Recruiting has even been stalled for coaches across the country.

For Czerise Villiers, she’s taken that hard as she’s been a high jumper, aiming to get on the University of Central Florida’s track team.

“The entire NCAA eligibility situation is just shut down. So a lot of colleges just stopped recruiting for spring sports,” Villiers said.


On top of all the changes, now the traditional ceremony for graduation is on hold too.

“It’s saddening actually because a lot of us look forward to this, we worked really hard,” Villiers said.

However, Polk County Public Schools is now giving seniors a say in how they graduate.

A survey has been sent out offering the following:

  • A Virtual Ceremony
  • A Drive-Thru Graduation
  • Postponing Traditional Ceremony until June
  • Postponing Traditional Ceremony until July

“I really don’t want to graduate like this over video chat, I really don’t want to graduate like that,” said Diana Garcia, who chose the drive-thru option saying it would be unique and different.

But many students tell ABC Action News they would prefer to hold off and wait until they can participate in a in-person graduation, opting to postpone until June or July.

PCPS says it will adhere to any CDC guidelines once the surveys are turned in and a decision is made.

The surveys are due April 30.