logo
Serving North Texas Since 1937

CoServ helps Texas Motor Speedway get 13,500 North Texas high school graduates across the finish line

CoServ helps Texas Motor Speedway get 13,500 North Texas high school graduates across the finish line

By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ

Thousands of North Texas high school graduates received their diplomas at Texas Motor Speedway over the last few weeks as their families and friends watched from the safety of their vehicles. To launch its new community partnership with TMS, CoServ sponsored the special “socially distanced” graduations to make sure the Class of 2020 received a proper graduation ceremony.

“I was grateful we were able to have a graduation in person,” said Nathan Reynolds, part of the first class to graduate from Braswell High School in Little Elm. “We were able to get this finishing moment for my graduation.”

Over the course of two weeks, TMS hosted 32 high school graduations, mostly from Denton County school districts.

Parents and family members parked their vehicles in the infield where they could watch the graduation on Big Hoss, the world’s largest television screen. Graduates sat 6 feet apart on the racetrack until it was time to get their diploma. Donut-shaped burnout marks could be seen on the pavement where drivers celebrate victories. In auto racing, the starting line is also the finish line – much the same way receiving the high school diploma finishes their high school career while at the same time beginning their journey into adulthood.   

The COVID-19 shutdown of schools left many graduates with uncertainty and anxiety over whether they would get a proper graduation after their proms and other senior experiences had already been canceled.

Braswell parent Barbara Martinez feared that her son, Sully, and other Class of 2020 graduates would wake up with nightmares about never officially graduating from high school.

The ceremony at TMS helped in a big way.

“I think they actually did a really good job. It went really well,” she said. “This is some closure. At first I was skeptical, but it was memorable. It’s a very generous thing for the speedway to donate the space.”

More than two dozen CoServ Employees also volunteered to direct traffic before and after the graduation ceremonies, helping thousands of parents and graduates safely find a parking space and, when the event ended, efficiently exit the TMS infield.

CoServ President and CEO Donnie Clary said the partnership makes sense.

 “We’ve been impressed with the community involvement that TMS has, and we think it fits in very well with the community involvement that CoServ has,” he said. “We’re excited to partner with them.”

Working with Denton County Judge Andy Eads, TMS organizers worked fast to put together graduation ceremonies that would be memorable while also following social distancing guidelines, said TMS President and General Manager Eddie Gossage.   

“It may not be what they exactly dreamed of, but they have a story to tell for the rest of their life,” he said. “It has saved commencement ceremonies.”

For Eddie, it felt great to do something positive after months of disappointments.

The first NASCAR race of the 2020 season was just a few weeks away when the coronavirus outbreak shut down all sports in mid-March. At CoServ, we were poised to announce the new partnership with TMS that would include promotional opportunities for educators and first responders on race days, as well as providing a potential staging area on the premises for disaster-relief efforts.

TMS was preparing for about 130,000 race fans to descend on the track in far northwest Fort Worth when large gatherings were suddenly banned. Within a few days, the stay-at-home orders were put in place, and everything changed.

“The unthinkable had occurred. It was like a horror movie,” Eddie said. “I knew we were counting down toward our NASCAR race and that that wasn’t going to happen. That’s we do, that’s the only product we produce is these big gatherings.” 

Texas Motor Speedway offices closed as Eddie directed his employees to work from home and the announcement of CoServ’s partnership with the racetrack was postponed.  

CoServ’s sponsorship of the graduations provided the perfect time to announce the TMS partnership.

“CoServ has clearly demonstrated that they are great for the community and their Employees,” Eddie said. “You want to be doing business with great people.”

TMS is gearing up for the Genesys 300 INDYCAR series race at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 6 – without fans. Instead, the inaugural INDYCAR race of 2020 will be aired on NBC. The drivers are already socially distant in their vehicles, and steps will be taken to spread out pit crews with the proper protective equipment, Eddie said.

Like other sports, TMS will take a hit by not having fans in the stands but they’ll have television ratings, which will benefit them and racing sponsors.

“No sport or team is set up to withstand a prolonged stoppage,” Eddie said. “It begins the flow of commerce through our sport. Hopefully before long we’ll be able to have live crowds.”

 


 

CoServ is an electric and natural gas distribution company serving North Texas. Incorporated as Denton County Electric Cooperative in 1937, CoServ Electric is one of the largest electric cooperatives in the country, serving more than 250,000 electric meters across Denton, Collin and four other North Texas counties. CoServ Gas was established in 1998 and serves more than 130,000 gas meters in Denton, Collin and Kaufman counties. CoServ’s mission is to deliver excellent service to our Members and Customers by providing safe and reliable energy solutions. 

Print
Tags:

Featured Story