Texas high school graduation lit by cell phones after balloons knock out power


Editor’s Note: Updated to make clear balloons hitting power lines caused this power outage.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a year unlike any other, how about a graduation ceremony unlike any other. Anderson High School’s graduation took place in the dark lit only by people’s cell phone flashlights. They used a megaphone to announce the graduates and give speeches.

The graduates weathered nasty storms that forced them inside and caused power outages across much of the city, but it turns out balloons that flew into power lines were responsible for this specific outage. Austin Energy confirmed that to KXAN Thursday morning.

Austin ISD and Anderson High leaders decided to move forward with the graduation anyway, again using cell phone flashlights and a megaphone. Austin ISD tweeted out this video of the graduation as the students and audience sang the national anthem.

Austin High School’s graduation started at 8 p.m. By 8:24 p.m., all the lights were off as the ceremony continued in the dark. The lights stayed dark for about half an hour. Many students got their diplomas in the dark..

Anderson High said fittingly salutatorian Nickhil Anantha’s speech — delivered by megaphone in the dark — focused on adapting to circumstances like the pandemic, virtual learning and even grduation power outages.

The power outage did prevent families from watching the ceremony at home. Austin ISD was not able to livestream the event.

Austin Energy restored power around 8:50 p.m. and wished the Class of 2021 well.

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