“Tonight marks our final step together, and symbolizes the years we have spent growing with each other into the young men and women we have become,” said Katie Bernal, RHS valedictorian, during commencement exercises.
Refugio, Woodsboro and Austwell-Tivoli high schools all selected Friday for commencement exercises. Combined, the schools graduated 122 seniors.
Parents, families and friends packed the RHS auditorium, the WHS stadium and the A-THS gymnasium for the ceremonies.
The graduates also honored the educators who impacted their lives, like Coach Aaron Houston at WHS.
“Somebody I know none of us will ever forget is Coach Houston,” said Melissa Cisneros, WHS valedictorian. “If you couldn’t find us in our assigned class, we were probably in his room. I’m going to miss him being angry with us but still trying to keep his temper in check because ‘we were too old to be yelled at.’”
Katie said the educators at RHS all played an important role, especially Charles Cook, who teaches the 7 a.m., before-school class.
“Just ask anyone who took Mr. Cook’s zero period calculus class this year,” Katie said. “We learned more than how to derive and integrate; we found out the meaning of responsible and motivated.”
Cody Steele, RHS salutatorian, told the crowd his “objective here isn’t to woo you with big fancy words or to set the record for the world’s longest speech; it is simply to recognize everyone involved in our journey of life up to this point.”
Cody summed up with a quote from his favorite teacher, “who taught me the most, Charles Cook, “It’s been real, it’s been fun, but not real fun.”
Glynnis Sessions, salutatorian at A-THS, said she “will never forget the people we have met and those who have made an impact in our lives.”
Most of the students started kindergarten with their classmates but others came later.
“I grew up in El Paso, Virginia and in Germany,” said Ryan Cisneros, WHS salutatorian. “But it seems as though no matter how far my parents took me away from here, whether it was across the state, across the country, or even across the Atlantic Ocean, I was always able to find my way back here to good ol’ Boro to be with my real friends and family.”
In the 15-member Austwell-Tivoli senior class, students are especially close.
“We have been with each other since day one,” said Kenna Rohan, valedictorian at A-THS. “We have become each other’s second family and I couldn’t ask for a better class to grow up with.”
Lamenting at how their senior year flew by, Kenna said, “I feel as if the year just started a few weeks ago .”
Smiling through tears, the graduates spoke from the heart.
“This is probably the last time we’ll all be together as a class for a long time, so I just want you all to know how much I love y’all and how much fun I’ve had, not only these last four years, but all throughout our school days,” Melissa said.
Though bigger schools than A-THS, Refugio and Woodsboro students are close-knit as well.
“Nine years ago when I had my first day at Stricklin Elementary, I did not yet know the lasting impact the people I met that day would have on my life,” Katie Bernal said. “Today, I know that my time in Refugio has been a wonderful experience only because of the people I am lucky enough to call my classmates.”
Looking to the future, Kenna told her classmates she had “hoped to have some miraculous advice that would alter the course of your entire life. But tonight, I don’t have a lot of advice to give. I’m the same age as all of you, I have experienced just as much as you have and I honestly have no clue what to expect.”
While nobody can predict what the future holds, the students are ready to move on.
“As we throw our hats in the air, we look into the sky knowing that is our limit and we leave behind a legacy at Woodsboro High School,” Melissa said. “To our friends, we will never say goodbye, but just remember, the show goes on.”