No commencement ceremony would be complete without a valedictorian leaving their fellow classmates with a final piece of advice.

Oftentimes, that piece of advice is a simple quote from a famed author or wordsmith.

Jazmin Esquivel went a little more obscure with her final piece of advice to the members of the Skidmore-Tynan class of 2021 at the district’s commencement ceremony May 28 at Bobcat Stadium.

“Before I give the stage to the next speaker, I would like to leave you all with this last piece of advice,” the class valedictorian told her classmates.

“Take care of your thoughts, for they will turn into your words. Take care of your words, for they will turn into your actions. Take care of your actions, for they will become your habits. Take care of your habits, for they will become your character. Take care of your character, for it will become your destiny, and take care of your destiny, for your destiny will be your life.”

Shortly after Esquivel delivered her address, the 56 members of the class of 2021 walked the stage to receive their diplomas from high school Principal Matt Lohse and Superintendent Richard Waterhouse.

It was the final crowning achievement for a class that faced unprecedented challenges throughout the past four years.

Hurricane Harvey blew through just before the start of their first year at the high school, then a pandemic gripped the nation throughout the latter half of their junior year and all the way through their senior year.

“Well, you’ve finally made it,” Lohse told the class during his turn behind the lectern.

“You were able to participate and excel in the classroom, on the court, the field, the stage, and academic competitions and in these aspects, you made all of us as a community very proud. 

“Now, comes the real work.”

The knockout punch to finish off his impassioned speech came Lohse’s favorite movie character, Rocky Balboa.

“As my favorite movie character Rocky Balboa said, ‘The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.’

“I look out among you and I see winners,” Lohse continued. “I see young adults hungry to take on the world. People who are eager to build their future and make the world their own and I have full confidence that you will do just that.”

When class salutatorian Maria Rebugio took the stage for her address, she reminded her class to always enjoy the journey, no matter where that journey takes them.

She first quoted author Oscar Wilde – “success doesn’t rush, the greatest reward is the journey” – then famed opera singer Beverly Sills – “there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

Natalie Garcia closed out the ceremony with another important reminder.

“Graduation is not the end, it is the start for the rest of our lives,” she said. “I am so proud of all of us for making it to this special moment. Wherever we go and whatever we do, may we always be friends when we meet again.”

She then asked her fellow seniors to stand and turn their tassels to the left.

“Congratulations to all of us,” she said. “We have now graduated.”

•kkeller@mysoutex.com•

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Kevin J. Keller is the content director for Coastal Bend Publishing and the editor of the Beeville Bee-Picayune. He can be reached by email at sports@mysoutex.com or by phone at 361-343-5223, or you can follow him on Twitter @beepicsports.