Garren Cortez didn’t seem anxious as he stood at the front of the line.
With his black graduation gown flowing freely and his cap in his hand, the Calla High Senior coolly kept his composure just as the band started to play the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” – the entry music for graduates.
It was a big step in his young life, but he looked at it like an opportunity to seek out a world full of opportunities.
“I’m looking at it like it’s the first day to start my life,” he said. “Whatever way I can represent myself I’ll take. I’m excited and I’m definitely looking forward to this – it marks the start of a new beginning.”
In all 131 graduates received their certificates Friday night at Crossroads Grace Community Church signifying that they had completed the necessary coursework to complete their secondary education. In the eyes of Principal Kathy Crouse, seeing so many students reach their goal was amazing.
“All of the graduates – you overcame a lot of tenuous circumstances and adversity to get where you are. Some of you met these requirements early and some you met these requirements today,” she said. “Just remember that this isn’t the end. Tonight is the beginning of all of the opportunities that lie ahead for you.”
And some of the wisdom came from the graduates as well.
Madison Harris – who won special awards in both the English and Art categories and received several scholarships – talked not only about the accomplishments conquered that allowed the students to get to Friday night, but those that they’ll slay in the future as well.
“We’ve proven not only to ourselves but our peers that we’re strong, capable individuals,” she said before turning to the teachers. “They have been there to guide us through these special years and have become people that we can love and trust – thank you for never giving up on us.”
Then she threw in the line of the night when she talked about the parents in the audience.
“You can’t imagine the sense of relief they’re experiencing right now,” she said. “In fact, now would be a good time to ask for money.”
One of the students that was set to speak went into labor just hours before the start of the graduation ceremony. Crouse read her speech so that those in attendance could hear her words – a statement that was heavy with thanks to the staff that pushed her to stay in school during her pregnancy and earn the credits needed to graduate.