Houston High School Valedictorian Emily Pettit addresses an empty auditorium, except for the limited number of guests she was allowed, as she gave her speech for the camera.

HOUSTON – Like all area schools, Houston High School's Class of 2020 had their senior year cut short due to COVID-19.

Along with the closing of schools due to the virus came some concerns about graduation, as the limits were and still are on large gatherings.

So, this year, the packed football field was replaced by an empty auditorium, as students walked the stage and received their diplomas…by themselves.

Students graduated by appointment in individual ceremonies on Thursday and Friday. Each student was allowed up to six guests per ceremony, and the ceremonies were recorded and are to be compiled into a video.

The annual awards night was also affected, with it being completely virtual this year, and broadcast live over Facebook on the Tuesday night prior to graduation.

Among the noticeable absences in this year's proceedings was the customary throwing of the cap, which is a symbolic rite of passage from this stage of life onto another. However, due to the nature of things, this will not be included.

Class Valedictorian Emily Pettit gave her speech on Thursday night, addressing an empty auditorium except for the limited amount of guests she was allowed.

“We would not be here today if not for the teachers, staff and administration that have cared for us and poured themselves into our lives over the past 13 years,” said Pettit.

While working through the years spent with her classmates, Pettit also addressed the final year being cut short by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Then spring break...the spring break that never ends,” she said. “One week turns into two, then two weeks turns into April 17, the April 17 turns into the remainder of the year.”

Pettit's speech capped off the events of the evening.

The seniors who received diplomas included:

Justin Randall Adams

Thomas Rish Alford

Bethaney Grace Allen

Brandon James Allen

Elisia Juan Barr

Taylor Beaty

Timothy Colton Birmingham

Kenneth Lamar Blakeney III

Abby Kathryn Boyer

Emma Grace Brassfield

John Isaac Bridgman

Triquasha Shadae Brownlee

Khadaja Lashundra Buchanan

Keshon Ladarrius Bynum and

Jayeana Brychelle Coleman.

Brandon Shayne Cook

Kamryn Alexandria Cooper

Tavarious Jontavious Cooperwood

Nyasia Dayonna Copeland

Addyson Claire Crump

Jamiya Lashay Cunningham

Jermaya Janae Davenport

Jylon Davidson

Quavious Jamel Davidson

Michael Isaiah Quartez Dedeaux

Ashton Clay DeHetre

Kennedy Ann Earrey

Jonathan Ross Easley

Cannan Carter Edwards and

Xavier Armon Fears.

Destiny Shamya Fields

Zavian Jarez Ford

Montrell Lashun Fulton

Jacorey Tyrell Golden

Jennifer Gomez

Kayla Talia Jazmin Gonzalez

Tyler Samuel Gordillo

Arkevius Reshawn Gray

Edna Guevara

Evelyn Guevara

Johnathan David Hallmark

Eli Chapman Hancock

Kelaysha Dae'Shun Hatchett

Christopher James Hollingsworth and

Catera Lashay Horton.

Tristin Ezekial Huggins

Santanna Leann Hughes

Austin Reid Hurst

Alexander Blake Ivy

Arzarius Levert Ivy

Janiya Mykia Ivy

Janyola Sy'rai Jones

Mary Leigh Ann Kilgore

Audrey Claire King

Jonathan Reed Lancaster

Juan Valdez Lincoln

Haley Nicole Makamson

Roytail Tarail McAllister

Makiya Lenese McCoy and

Shaquala Nicole McGregory.

Calvin Dequane McMillian

Connor Alexander Moore

Mariyah Keyae Morgan

Walter Lee Moss

Avery Eli Naron

Stone Lancaster Nelson

Jakerris Traevaris Orr

Emily Lauren Pettit

Kayleigh Hope Pettit

James Kellen Pumphrey

Labyron Tyberrious Raines

Santana Hope Randle

Makenna Faith Reaves

Lindsey Marie Reeves and

Christian Austin Rimmer.

Aaliyah De'sha Robertson

Phadarion Allen Robertson

Tra'Mon Roselle Robinson

Juana Maria Rodriguez

Jasmine Tazulaiya Chavez Rogers

Brett Lee Rutledge

Hayden Gregory Scarbrough

Nathanael Taylor Shoemaker

Kiley Caroline Smith

William Cole Springer

Monterrian Juatez Swing

Lamydreon Nikendrick Taylor

Pearson Jonathan Louis Taylor

Bobby Derick Townsend, Jr. and

Jonathan Kyle Vance.

Xavier Krishun Virges

Christopher Garrison Washington

Kentavious Lashun Wofford and

Gabriel Eric Womack.

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