Waxahachie High School Class of 2020 has outdone itself. Not only did students excel academically during a pandemic, but, for the first time in many years, 100 percent of WHS seniors will graduate.

The campus counselors individually scrolled down their lists of names on May 28 to see if everyone was eligible for graduation. With relief, each of them sent in their group text, "My seniors are good."

One by one, each counselor texted the same message, resulting in a celebration from a distance.

WHS principal Tonya Harris was excited to announce for the first time in many years that 100 percent of seniors were graduating.

"In addition, we were able to recover some seniors from years past that were not able to graduate, but they were able to obtain their credits and graduate with this senior class," Harris elaborated. "We are excited about this accomplishment, and it has taken a team effort working all year diligently to ensure every student met the requirements for graduation."

Waxahachie ISD Superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain was thrilled when she heard the news and addressed the hard work of the senior class. "We are excited about this accomplishment, and our students clearly set the bar high. We have a lot to accomplish in years to come, and I look forward to celebrating this achievement at commencement."

To be eligible for graduation, students must have 90 percent attendance, pass five end-of-course exams, and earn 26 credits in the required areas. Of course, there are ways for students to make up for unmet requirements. The counselors emphasized that the time COVID-19 provided benefited the students with attendance issues, and allowed adequate time to complete make-up work.

Susan Schmidt, the lead counselor, explained that an Individual Graduation Committee can exempt test scores if students pass three of five end-of-course exams. Student test scores can be waived by the committee if the student completes an approved project to override failing EOC scores. Typically, the final EOC is taken in March or April, providing a short time frame for seniors to make up for failing grades.

"This year, they had more time to get these projects done," explained Ramona Leonhardt, WHS counselor.

WHS counselor Jean Baskin said, "In hard times like we’ve had now, there is a silver lining, and the silver lining is this amazing opportunity for kids to earn credit."

When reconciling the steps taken to reach a 100 percent graduation rate, the counselors addressed the leadership on the campus, in the district, and in the community.

"Kudos to the district because when it immediately became evident that we would switch to online learning, the district rolled out guidelines and found ways to get the kids internet connection and address issues," Baskin noted.

The counselors thanked the Board of Trustees, administration, and the community for its support and for providing resources to ensure the success of all students.