HSHP grads turn page to next chapter

HARLINGEN — It’s been a long, hard road they’ve traveled.

But yesterday, 69 students in the graduating class of Harlingen School of Health Professions finally made it.

“It is hard to imagine that we have all braved and conquered the daunting years of high school,” said Brittney Garza, valedictorian, at the graduation ceremony at HCISD Performing Arts Center.

“We have faced insurmountable stress, lack of sleep, and countless hours of homework,” said Garza, 18.

“Now we head off to college where we will face even greater amounts of stress, lack of sleep, and homework, and I couldn’t be happier. We have finally made it to the other side of high school and I am so proud of each and every one of us.”

Dr. Nolan Perez, school board president, congratulated the students for their achievement.

“At HSHP, you have so much to be proud of,” he said. “Certification exams have increased over 80 percent. You have expanded community partnerships to provide students hands-on opportunities. And you met all seven distinctions with TEA. You surely are placing yourself in the front of the line.”

The ever-present Matthew Garcia, salutatorian, recalled his first weeks of school with such an accelerated medical-based curriculum.

“The most terrifying of all was the introduction to our favorite Project Based Learning,” he said. “Throughout my first weeks at our school, I really struggled with the idea that I had made the wrong choice in coming here, that I had made the worst decision of my life.”

But that turned out to be the usual trepidation of a new experience which ultimately led to him being accepted to Harvard.

“Something magical started to happen,” he said. “Through our Phoenix Time activities and that really small cafeteria that forced us to talk to each other, I watched a new sense of family spread. Friends were made incredibly quickly as we all bonded over the shared experience of acclimating to a new environment.”

Administrators were excited about the students embarking on the next chapter of their lives.

“We are very proud of all that this year’s graduating class has accomplished,” said Principal Tina Garza. “As the Class of 2019, they have experienced the campus’s five-year programming and have made their positive mark in the medical community. We wish them the best and look forward to them returning next year to give our students feedback on their experiences.”

Brittney emphasized the significance of the impending future.

“Each of us faces the precipice of the future,” she said. “The future is not off in the distance anymore; it is here and it begins today. The only question left is whether we will choose to leap with courage into the unknown or sit idly on the sidelines.”