Palmview High School students graduated at the La Joya Coyote Stadium last Saturday morning as parents, families, and loved ones watched from the bleachers with pride.
Principal Yvonne Ayala served as master of ceremonies before introducing Student Council President Ariana Duran for the opening statement.
“We are not just graduating here today,” said Duran. “We are taking the next step into our future and showing the world that we have resilience, grit, and courage. We are making history today.
With Duran leaving her place at the podium with a final ‘Go Lobos!’ and Principal Ayala acknowledging the Board of Trustees, honorary guest Congressman Henry Cuellar gave a few words of encouragement to the graduating class.
“When you look at the highlights of this school, you should be very, very proud. You have people that have excelled in academics [and] in sports. But more importantly, you have been able to get past this pandemic.” said Cuellar.
With the hardship of the pandemic, Cuellar emphasized the strength through the struggle the graduating class has shown during their senior year.
“But we came out stronger, and it taught us one thing: that no matter what the challenges are, here at La Joya Independent School District, we stay together, we grow together, and we learn together, and we’re stronger as a community,” said Cuellar before congratulating the class of 2021, and giving a saying of the rule of 3.
The salutatory address was given by Xavier Pina and began with a moment of silence for those who could not be in attendance.
He asked his peers in the audience to reflect on the good memories of their high school years to cherish them.
“You are worth all the good that is to come,” he told his peers. “Please never doubt yourself. Go out into the world, make your mark, and always remember your roots.”
Before he closed his address, Pina spoke on the definition of success and how his graduating class should carry it out into the world.
“Success is not money. Success is not a piece of paper with your name and qualification on it. Success is not a title that you hold nor a role that you play,” Pina said. “Success is being happy with where you are, knowing you are positively impacting somebody, and doing what you want to do.”
Pina said that this advice does not mean to not rebel against the world but to act with reason while doing so.
“Regardless of the journey you continue after today, please go out [and] represent us well and show the world what the RGV has to offer,” said Pina before handing the spotlight to Palmview’s Valedictorian Clarisa Cortez.
The motto of ‘take it one day at a time’ is something Cortez brought with her each day, with familial struggles of having a single mother, moving out of the place she called home, and becoming a co-parent to her sister.
Despite the difficulty, she learned that it was through education that she could give her family a better life and one they deserved. Cortez persevered and found her footing, with her drive coming from how she saw her mother work hard each day.
“One day, spring break was extended for a whole year. One day, we were told that our senior year would be conducted virtually,” said Cortez. “For each one of those days, no matter how hard they were, I learned that obstacles are lessons that force us to grow.”
She passed the message on to her classmates, encouraging them to take things slow, not overwhelm themselves, and take care of themselves.
After thanking her family and close friends, she reminisced about freshman year, taking the class back in time for a moment.
“We are closing this chapter of our lives and starting a new one. We can’t foresee what the future holds, but we can choose what we do in our next chapter,” said Cortez before continuing.
“One day, we found ourselves forging friendships and everlasting memories. One day, we began senior year online,” said Cortez. “Today, we stand here as the class of 2021 to celebrate our accomplishments.”
Cortez then gave the final farewell.
“The class of 2021 is an unstoppable force, and nothing will get in the way of us chasing our dreams, not even a pandemic,” said Cortez. “Congratulations to the class of 2021. We did this together.”
Certification of the graduates then followed with the changing of the tassels from right to left. Graduates then accepted their diplomas.
The graduation closed with the Palmview High School band performing the alma mater.