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Texas high school holds socially distant graduation ceremony at Texas Motor Speedway

Graduations in the age of coronavirus
Texas high school holds graduation ceremony at speedway 01:45

The coronavirus pandemic broke out just as the class of 2020 was nearing the finish line, and some schools found the perfect place to hand out diplomas. "It's graduating in the middle of a pandemic," said graduating senior Ricky Morals.

"So, a little bit weird?" asked CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal.

"Yeah," Morales replied with a laugh.

Morales' valedictorian speech to the graduates of Little Elm High School in North Texas almost didn't happen.

"This is just a day that we've all worked so hard for," said class president Karmen Brown. "And just the thought of it not possibly coming, it broke so many of our heart."

In true Texas style, the situation was to go big. Principal Elizabeth Priddy worked with the district to hold the graduation ceremony at the Texas Motor Speedway, typically home to NASCAR races — and the world's largest HDTV.

"When we had this opportunity presented to us, it was like, 'That's it. We're outside. We can social distance. And it's a huge venue,'" said Priddy.

At least 32 schools will hold their ceremonies here — with students socially distanced, and parents watching from their cars.

High schools across America are sending seniors off in style, with parades of honking cars and principals stopping by to hand each student their diploma.

"Even though this isn't how any of us thought our senior year would end, we have made the most of it," Morales said in his speech.

Little Elm High School graduates
Little Elm High School graduates stand six feet apart from each other during graduation ceremonies at Texas Motor Speedway on May 21, 2020, in Fort Worth. Ronald Martinez/Getty

For the Morales family and so many others, this celebration provides a life lesson during this pandemic.

"What is the big takeaway for these seniors, especially dealing with this crisis?" Villarreal asked Priddy.

"Appreciate the little things, because it's those little things that are actually the big things, and don't take those for granted," Priddy said.

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