HARLINGEN — “Howdy everyone.”
Hunter Butler’s upbeat introduction was a fine way to set the tone last night for Harlingen High School South’s graduation ceremony at Boggus Stadium.
The ceremony graduated more than 500 students, and Hunter was at the top of the list as valedictorian of the Class of 2019.
But his speech wasn’t just about him. He congratulated all his classmates who’d made it to this shining moment in their lives.
“You are living proof that hard work and dedication can culminate into something truly impressive,” said Hunter, 17.
“High school is a crazy time,” he said. “There are ups and downs, and twists and turns, but somewhere along the way, we grew up.”
Harlingen South is a step above the rest, said Dr. Nolan Perez, school board president, as he gave his congratulatory address.
“You are a five star distinction campus,” he said. “You set a new record $15 million in scholarships. You are the only school in district 32-6A to make the playoffs in every sport.”
He looked over the crowd and said, “Let’s give the Mighty Hawks a huge round of applause.”
The audience erupted with enthusiastic clapping and Perez continued.
“This day is yours,” he said to the graduates, “but not yours alone. We all owe a debt to the friends, family and loved ones who believe in us, support us, push us, and encourage us.
“So, graduates, please join me in a round of applause for the people in your lives who have helped you reach this important milestone.”
More applause, and then the accolades continued from many, including Salutatorian Christine Vega, 17. She said this year’s graduating class is one of the most competitive and hardworking classes the school has ever seen.
“All of us should be immensely proud of our accomplishments,” said Christine, 17. “Please take a minute to be proud of yourselves, for your perseverance, determination and hard work that have gotten you to where you are now.”
She extolled them also to “cherish the memories you have made while at South.”
She went in depth thanking her teachers who’d helped her along the way. She also gave a special nod to her family and friends.
“You have been an inspiration to me, and without your support I truly don’t know where I would be,” she said. “To my support system, consisting of my two best friends Brittney and Constanza, thank you so much for all you’ve done for me.”
She also addressed other family members in far away places.
“A mi querida familia que estan en Puerto Rico, gracias por siempre apoyarme en mis suenos, estudios, y vida en general,” she said.
Principal Fernando Reyes has enjoyed seeing them all grow up.
“This is a group of seniors that I’m going to miss dearly because I had them for all three years,” Reyes said. “They’ve accomplished a lot.”
He pointed out all the talented athletes are signing with colleges, and other seniors attending the University of Texas and Texas A&M. Students have received scholarships from as near as UTRGV and as far away as the Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York.
“We have a really good group of kids that I’m going to miss,” he said. “They’re a very special class because South is a very high performing school and they’re part of the reason for that.”