PORT LAVACA – Meredith Martinez, 19, donned a black face mask adorned with a gold sandcrab.

A sea of masked faces surrounded her.

The Calhoun High School graduates wore their face masks and sat 6 feet apart for their adjusted graduation ceremony on Friday in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also left their audience limited in number.

“It’s probably going to look different than how it’s supposed to be,” Martinez said. “It sucks that my whole family can’t see.”

Martinez wished she had a huge crowd of family and friends cheering her as she crossed the stage, but her cheering squad was limited to her parents.

Calhoun High School graduate Sierra Hisquieredo, 19, wore a solid black face mask with her black graduation cap and gown.

“I feel accomplished,” she said about graduating. “It’s not really how I envisioned it.”

The class of about 258 students wore face masks and practiced social distancing during the ceremony. The audience was limited to two people per graduate.

Hisquieredo said she is upset her whole family couldn’t be in stands because of the district’s two-ticket-per-graduate limit.

“It’s tough because a lot of people aren’t seeing the ones they love,” she said.

But she was grateful the graduation ceremony was streamed on YouTube for the rest of her friends and family to see.

“It’s really cool having the class together,” she said.

Krystal Stringham, mother of two graduates, said she thinks each graduate could have had more tickets given the size of Sandcrab Stadium.

Stringham’s twin sons each received two tickets, so they had three family members and a girlfriend to cheer them on.

Stringham, of Port Lavaca, said she was upset because her other children and her parents couldn’t watch her sons Levi and Jax graduate.

“I’m grateful they are still getting to graduate,” she said. “I’m glad we’re here.”

Samantha Douty is the education reporter at the Victoria Advocate. She grew up in Corpus Christi and graduated from UT-Arlington with a bachelor's in journalism.

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