Frederick A. Douglass seniors graduate with personal ceremony from principal

May 20, 2020 - 12:13 PM

Casey Ferrand (WTDN) - A pandemic-cancelled graduation did not stopping Frederick A. Douglass High School Principal Towana Pierre Floyd from giving every one of her students the personalized graduation they deserve.

All week the school is hosting individual graduations for each of their graduating seniors. Each student is allowed to invite a limited number of guests to their personal commencement ceremony to watch them have their own processional and receive their diploma.

"It felt really important to, in the absence of a full graduation, still do something that fully honors their experience, their journey and their accomplishments," Floyd said.

The each also get a very personal commencement speech all about them at their ceremony. The commencement speaker is their principal who is taking time to share personalized stories and memories about each individual student and their accomplishments.

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Floyd is pacing herself for the sometimes emotional speeches by doing about 25 15-minute graduation ceremonies each day until all of her 120 seniors receive their diploma.  

"The way our school operates it's a really personal place. We talk a lot about team and family and we mean it," Floyd said. "Personal has been the hallmark of our experience all the way through and so it would feel unnatural to be less personal at this super important moment."

This is the first year that the campus has reclaimed the original name of the St. Claude Ave. school building, Frederick A Douglass, under the KIPP New Orleans Schools charter organization. This is also the first class of graduating seniors enrolled in the Bard early college program, the only school in the state where students can earn an associate's degree from their high school.

Douglass's class of 2020 seniors has earned more than $8-million in scholarships and there are about 30 students graduating with an associate's degree. 

The school still plans to hold a full commencement ceremony for all of their students on August 3 at 7 p.m. if conditions allow. 

CLICK HERE to watch the personal graduations

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