ECHS super students graduate

2019 graduates from Early College High School enter the auditorium to cheers from family and friends as they make their way to front seats.

HARLINGEN — They’d reached the end of one story.

Time for another to begin.

Taylor Ann Garcia shared this and so much more with her classmates Friday night as 53 seniors graduated from Early College High School.

“ I want to thank you for going on this exhausting journey with me,” said Taylor, this year’s salutatorian.

“ Life is anything you want it to be,” she told the audience at the HCISD Performing Arts Center.

“ Write your story,” she said. “But most importantly, love and be happy.”

This was the first class Principal Pamela Flores saw from its freshman year to graduation.

“ This is my fourth year at ECHS and so they were my freshman students as a new principal,” she said. “They have grown so much not only academically but I think also socially and emotionally they are very mature. I think they are very well-equipped to succeed in life. Our future looks very positive.”

Similar thoughts were revealed by Valedictorian Hannah Jane Powell.

“ I’ve had roughly the same group of friends since my freshman year,” she said. “I’m so glad that I’ve been able to know them all. You’ve always been there to offer me support in times of need. Our journey through ECHS has finally come to a close. But it’s not the final destination that is the most important, it’s the way of getting there.”

Several administrators and dignitaries stood to speak. At one point Dr. Nolan Perez, a school board member, was speaking to the students about the different challenges that awaited them. Suddenly there was a commotion in the back of the auditorium when a woman fell down some stairs.

“ Excuse me,” he told everyone. “I think I’ve got physician’s duties.”

Perez, a gastroenterologist, stepped down from the stage and went to the aid of the woman who had fallen. The woman was suffering from neck and back pain and he insisted she not be moved until paramedics arrived. Everyone applauded the woman as paramedics carried her out on a stretcher.

All the students seemed to have a well-laid out plan after graduation. Braxton Macias, 17, planned to study biomedical science and then join the Navy as an officer.

“ I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m glad the four years of hard work’s going to pay off.”

Attending ECHS presented its challenges. How did he overcome them?

“ Just staying consistent with my work, doing my best, presenting my best work to the professors and teachers,” he said.

That’s how Alyssa Dale did it. When her mother Evelon Dale died four years ago, she didn’t know how she was going to make it. But Evelon Dale’s sister Laura and her husband stepped in and raised her for the last four years, with great results.

“ It feels amazing,” said Alyssa, 18. “I spent all four years trying to get to this point and then it just, man, it’s here and it’s really special. It’s like I never really imagined this time actually getting here.”

Succeeding at ECHS was no small affair, she said.

“ The rigor is so much harder than with high school classes and you really can’t procrastinate,” she said. “You have to keep up with your work and you just have to be determined.”

She plans to study English at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.

twhitehead@valleystar.com