By Jim Tager
Graduation season is one of the most exciting times for those of us in education. You invest so much time into each of your students and this is when you expect to see it all come together, watching that young adult walk across a stage to receive their diploma.
Obviously, for the Class of 2020 at both Flagler-Palm Coast High School and Matanzas High School, everything they would “normally” do during their last quarter was anything but normal. The traditions such as going back to their elementary schools to walk the hallways, going to prom, Grad Bash at Universal Orlando may not seem like a big deal to most people in a community. However, for these students, missing out on these events took a toll.
That is why what occurred Sunday, May 31 at Daytona International Speedway was so special. We would never be able to make up for missed moments, but for the biggest moment in their K-12 journey, Flagler Schools was able to showcase these graduates on one of the biggest stages.
To the France family, NASCAR, and Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile and their entire team: we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for what you gave our graduates and their families. They worked hand-in-hand with a team from our district and our two high schools to provide a smooth ceremony, which included the pomp and circumstance expected of such an event. They then upped the ante by providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take that one, last victory lap. I wish we could have opened the grandstands so that everyone could experience the moment. The smiles and grateful comments coming from everyone in each vehicle as they passed assured me we did the right thing in holding this ceremony at this time and in this venue.
The world to which these graduates enter is much different than it was ten weeks ago when a global pandemic upended everything. The senseless killing in Minnesota of George Floyd has sparked a deep debate across our country. But I am certain this Class of 2020 is up to all the challenges set before them and will become a change agent towards uniting all people.
In spite of all the challenges that are in front of us, we are eternally grateful to the Daytona International Speedway for making the World Center of Racing the World Center of Graduations for one day. The amount of work behind the scenes that we did not see had to be monumental, and the sacrifice made by the France family, Daytona International Speedway, and NASCAR will always be appreciated.
Jim Tager’s three-year tenure as Flagler School Superintendent ends at the end of June.
Thank you NASCAR. A day these kids will never forget
sherri souza says
Thank you FPC and I3 staff for going above and beyond We are also so grateful for Chips dream he had and reaching out to our high schools thank you so much
The day was perfect. So organized! Thank you to everyone who helped make it happen! And thank you to all the police who were spread out around the track cheering the grads on. It was a very special day.
Marissa Alberty says
I thought it was awesome you came up with such a great idea! And one of the best parts, was a picture in the paper, of our car with my dad hanging out trying to video his granddaughter,my daughter, getting her diploma. Priceless!