El Campo High School’s 233 graduates grasped at their caps and various honor sashes to keep them intact as a brisk breeze blew through Ricebird Stadium Friday evening before the commencement ceremony began.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for and accept the graduating Class of 2019 of El Campo High School,” ECHS Principal Demetric Wells said over the loud speaker.
Lined up and stretched out along the track, in a matter of 10 minutes each graduate strode across the field to take a seat as the ECHS band played “Pomp and Circumstance” while family cheered from the stands with each step.
Following the pledge and a moment of silence lead by third highest ranking graduate Kinley Bubela, Salutatorian Daniela Vazquez gave her welcome address partially in English and Spanish.
In her address, Vazquez reminisced about the beginning of her high school years.
“It is only dawning on us as we sit here tonight that we have actually completed four years of high school,” Vazquez said.
Vazquez recalled the end of her eighth grade year speaking to counselors in order to begin to think about a career path.
“I remember thinking that 2019 was so far away, thinking what college I wanted to go to, or what field of education I wanted to continue studying. It felt completely pointless, and now I see how wrong I was for not taking their advice seriously, and how right they were, for in a blink of an eye four years of our lives have gone by,” she said.
“Half of us are still not sure what we want to be when we grow up,” she added.
She encouraged each of her classmates to remember the smiles, laughs and tears, all memories made at ECHS.
“Each of us are lining up at the start of a new racing line, and the paths we will run in will separate and maybe intertwine, but in the end each of us will successfully reach our own finish lines.”
“We are a generation of change, acceptance, hope and love,” she said.
ECISD Board President James Russell introduced all of the board members present, but not before sharing a few words with the graduates.
“Your paths may lead you away from El Campo, but remember once a Ricebird, always a Ricebird,” Russell said. “If your paths should lead you back, we’ll welcome you with open arms, and we hope you will become contributing members of this community.”
Wells introduced the 23 honor graduates as their parents’ names were called and they stood in the stands along with them before Valedictorian Sarah Singleton gave her farewell address.
“Everything we have done has finally paid off after 12 long years of procrastination, stress and anxiety, tonight we will earn a piece of paper holding the power to forge our future,” Singleton said.
In her address, Singleton told her fellow graduates that this is a bittersweet ending to their four years together, but it is also an exciting beginning.
“As you look back at your last four years of high school, you begin to remember the four years of mounting values that got you here. These high and low moments that lead you toward your next chapter are not accidents and the mountains you conquered were not in vain,” she said. “You are not the same you were for years ago. You were growing, and you still are.”
“Keep these words with you as you continue to journey into what comes next,” she added.
Superintendent Kelly Waters certified all graduates had met the necessary requirements, then each walked across the stage to claim their diploma. Graduates held a moment of silence for their late classmate Donovan Blaylock who died in a car accident in 2018.
Class President Kalyn Jones lead the class in turning tassels. After the singing of the alma mater, the Class of 2019 tossed their hats into the air. Once congratulated by well-wishers, many of the graduates headed to Project Graduation, an all-night lock-in held in a drug/alcohol-free environment at Crescent Hall.