EVHS Graduation Celebrates Students
By Robert Naranjo
El Llano – Española Valley High School’s Edward Medina Gymnasium appeared filled to capacity with 4,000 people and almost 200 graduates on the court ready to the take the first step of the rest of their lives on Saturday, May 21, 2016. New Mexico’s biggest high school basketball venue seemed just big enough to hold the 190 strong EVHS graduating class of 2016, and their family, classmates, friends, distinguished and honored guests. The gymnasium was at capacity.
The home of the 2016 NMAA Class 5A State Basketball Tournament Champion Sundevils was as colorful as a peacock with a stream of hundreds balloons in red and gold–some in black that were held in place by netting above the graduates, and at the end of the ceremony, plunged to the court amid the graduates. Golden confetti ticker tape shot out of an air canon and joined the balloons in the colorful parade-like atmosphere, all in honor of the graduates.
But first, it all began with the Graduates of 2016 in the Processional, followed by the Co-Master of Ceremonies’ Welcome by Senior Class Secretary, Adrianna Suazo, and senior, Jasmine Vigil. Major Mark Gonzales’ AJROTC followed the welcome with a crisp Presentation of Colors. The Pledge of Allegiance was conducted in three languages by Celina Naranjo in English, Natiely Hernandez in Spanish and Ariel Sanchez in Tewa. Co-Valedictorian,Maria Evelyn Juarez, sang the National Anthem beautifully to bring an end the Opening Ceremonies.
Co-Valedictorian Evelyn Juarez. Valley Daily Post photo
The traditional graduation speeches followed, beginning with the Superintendent’s Address by Interim Superintendent, Myra Martinez, followed by Pablo Lujan’s School Board President’s Address and ended with the Principal’s Address by Leslie Chavez Kilmer. All wished the very best for the graduates and congratulated them on their accomplishment.
Co-Valedictorian Michael Gonzales. Valley Daily Post photo
Senior Class President, Ryan Baca, introduced District elementary school students who were special guests at the commencement and sat with the graduates. Baca said “they are the future leaders” in the community and was impressed and motivated with the young, bright students.
Kaitlyn Romero, a star girls basketball player for EVHS, gave the Salutatorian address, followed by the Co-Valedictorians, Maria Evelyn Juarez and Michael, who gave peer advice to their fellow students, and they thanked their respective families. And, in a touch of realism, they grudgingly told their fellow graduates that this may be the last time that “they see each other.”
The EVHS graduation featured a Keynote Address delivered by former DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) agent and leader, Michael Vigil, who advised the EVHS graduates to strive for the top and make and lasting and beneficial impact in their lives and in the world around them. Vigil succinctly said, “status quo is not an option.” And, if they settled for it, “you will be unsuccessful,” he predicted.
Vigil has been honored by leaders of countries around the world for his anti drug leadership and operations and given keys to major world cities. Only “one in five thousand” DEA applicants make it to becoming a DEA agent according to Vigil.
Vigil was the youngest DEA agent in its history at 22. He said he did not want to come home to Española to explain why he was “a failure.” His steadfast refusal to return home empty-handed and with excuses drove his ambition and he became one of the DEA’s all time top agents in that federal agency’s history.
The former Española High School Hornet, told a couple of stories about valor that were riveting, one story was about the rebels in Chiapas, Mexico where an enemy officer was so taken by the honor of the rebels in defeat, that he took nothing from the village that they decimated because of the valor and conviction shown by the Native peasant revolutionaries. Vigil mentioned the conquest of the Aztec Empire by the Spanish and subsequent intermarriages, and told all the graduates, “You have warrior blood in your veins.” And, he ended with a bit of sage advice, “Make something great out of yourselves,” Vigil said.
After Vigil’s Keynote Address, a video of the graduates, shown in candid moments, during their senior year was run. Then came the moment the EVHS graduates had earned for their 12 years of hard work–the Presentation, Acceptance and the Awarding of the Diplomas for the Class of 2016. The balloons and the confetti were released and this chapter in the graduates’ young lives came to a colorful end while they stood in the kaleidoscope of their lives, heretofore, and anxiously pondering their future.
Here is Senior Class President, Ryan Baca’s Farewell Address in its entirety.
“Dear Class of 2016,
It has been an honor to have lead you the last five years. I wish you nothing but the best as you embark on your new journey in life.
Before we say our final goodbye, I want to leave you with this message:
Find a passion and pursue it. Fall in love. Dream big. Eat great food and spend quality time with good friends. Laugh every day. Tell stories. Reminisce about the good old days but look with optimism to the future. Travel often. Learn more. Be creative. Spend time with people you admire. Seize opportunities when they reveal themselves. Love with all your heart. Never give up. Do what you love and be true to who you are. Make time to enjoy the simple things in life. Spend time with family. Forgive even when it’s hard. Smile often. Be grateful. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Follow your dreams. Try new things. Work hard. Don’t count the minutes count the laughs. Embrace change. Trust in yourself. Be thankful. Be nice to everyone. Be happy. Live for today. AND ABOVE ALL make every moment count.
Once again, Congratulations and God Bless.
Senior Class President.”