HARLINGEN — “What now?”
That’s the question for the Harlingen High School graduates as they continue with their lives, Valedictorian Allyson Puente said.
“Most of us will continue our education, others will enlist in the military, or some even the workforce,” she said last night at the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2019 at Boggus Stadium.
“No matter what path you choose to take, be proud of where you are going and do not let anyone else tell you otherwise,” she said.
Almost 600 Cardinal students received their diplomas last night after years of hard work. Friends and relatives came in droves to show their support bearing balloons and bouquets of flowers.
A woman struggled with a handful of red balloons, handing off a bouquet of red roses to the man walking beside her. Yesenia Rivera, 16, carried a black balloon with the words “congratulations” for her boyfriend who was graduating.
“I’m happy,” she said. “He’s very sweet and loving.”
On the field, Beatlemania seemed to be the theme of the evening as the Cardinal Band played fresh renditions of “Eleanor Rigby”, “Yesterday” and “Hard Days Night.”
Probably many of the graduates had seen some “hard days nights” and it paid off yesterday with graduation. Certainly Daniel Alvarado had and his sister Tiffany, 22, was there to support him.
“I am proud of him,” she said. “He’s accomplished a lot of things. He has all his cords.”
Her friend Claudia Sandoval has known them both for years and has seen Daniel undertake many challenges.
“He recently got a job,” said Claudia, 22. “It’s hard to coordinate homework with work. It was a big challenge.”
A brisk wind swept across the field, tossing red gowns and yellow tassels. The graduates had to hold their caps down while spectators in the bleachers grasped their balloons ever tighter.
The school and students had much to be proud of, said Dr. Nolan Perez, president of the Harlingen school board.
“The Big Red Cardinal band made it to the UIL state marching contest for the 11th consecutive year,” Perez said in his congratulatory address.
He gave special nod to Mary Clare Todd, a Terry scholar with a full ride to Texas Tech, and Sadot Gutierrez who placed first in the state in masonry. The school this year also produced five all-state choir students.
“These accomplishments are further evidence that Cardinal spirit never dies,” he said.
Interim Principal Imelda Trevino expounded on the many accomplishments by the graduating Cardinals.
“We have a record number of AP scholars as well as state and nationally recognized students in many areas such as choir, business, speech and drama, and JROTC.
“Although they have demonstrated great diversity in their pursuits, their strength as a class lies in their unity,” she said. “Together they have led HHS in developing a culture of character and achievement.”
Embrace life to the fullest. Laura Macmanus, salutatorian, spoke eloquently on that basic principal.
“Remember to be who you are … not what others think who you’re supposed to be,” she said. “As Lee Brice sings, ‘Be a best friend, tell the truth, overuse I love you, go to work, do your best, don’t outsmart your common sense, never let your praying knees get lazy, and love like crazy.’”
She also gave attention to the different stages of life and the responsibilities thereof.
“We are about to enter a new stage of our lives, a stage that is guaranteed to be filled with many moments of success, failure, and many lessons along the way, lessons that will mold us into the men and women we will be remembered as,” she said.
Perez’s message seemed to emphasize this message. He encouraged the students to take advantage of all the opportunities available to them, open doors that will close one by one as the years pass.
“You may find this hard to believe, but I doubt there is an adult in this stadium who wouldn’t want to trade places with you,” he said. “There is so much potential in you — waiting to be unleashed. Your lights have never burned brighter or more intensely than they do right now.”
Allyson extolled the value of confidence in personal identity.
“Wherever you are headed after today, whether it’s a local community college, the armed forces, or anything in between, be confident in your decision and follow your dreams,” she said. “Because I know we are all more than capable of achieving them.”