“I wish you success no matter how you choose to write your story,” said Pettus High School valedictorian Edna Herschberger to her classmates.

Herschberger was one of 24 students who graduated on a cloudy Friday night, May 28.

“I wish them the best of luck; they were a great class,” said Principal Rickey De Leon. “We made it through one of the roughest years by being safe. If it wasn’t for them being safe and following our mitigation plan, we wouldn’t be here today. Now, we just have to hold off the rain.”

During her speech, salutatorian Micah Davis compared their high school career to running a mile and thanked a local restaurant.

“Every mile is four laps around the track,” said Davis. “The first lap is like freshman year— it’s easy, and you’re full of energy. You’re more focused on placement and fitting in than the long road head. The second year is mostly a blur. The third is the worst. The fourth lap, you’re going to die. You’re almost done and notice how everything went by so fast and now you’re crossing the finish line.

“Thank you, Dairy Queen, for those late nights after the games and during the week when the food in the fridge just didn’t cut it.”

The seniors were all smiles as they sat in the middle of their football field surrounded by loved ones who often cried and waved and blew kisses to their graduates.

“I’m so happy for her,” said Allie Velasquez, cousin of senior Brianna Perez. “She accomplished a lot and overcame all her obstacles. She has such a bright future ahead of her, and there’s no place I’d rather be tonight.”

After receiving their diplomas, each senior handed long-stemmed white roses to their parents while the song “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts played in dedication.

Many parents shed tears and hugged their graduates tightly.

“He’s the baby of the family,” said Ashley Duran, mother of senior Trey Prieto. “We all graduated from Pettus, and he’s the last one. I’m very happy for him.”

Prieto said he was excited after graduating and was looking forward to getting a job and going to college.

“I’m also relieved,” he said. “My favorite part of the night was getting my diploma and being able to give the rose to my mom.”

Hailee Gaona, who wore one of the biggest smiles throughout the night, said her plans were to continue working and then go to college.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “I hope to do big things one day.”

The ceremony ended as the class of 2021 made their way to the corner of the football field and huddled closely together while their class song “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins played.

Students performed hand stands and back flips, danced, cheered and hugged each other tightly.

As parents and friends circled them, they through their mortarboards in the air.

Valedictorian Edna Hershberger made her class laugh with a story about how they slipped on wet portable stairs their freshman year and reminded them that memories are more important than racing through their goals.

“Remember to stop and take in the scenery,” she said. “Don’t just focus on the end goal and forget to enjoy the journey.”

•arivera@mysoutex.com•

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