BISBEE — On Thursday night, the historic Warren Ballpark rung with joyful cheering as friends and families watched Bisbee High School’s senior class walk across the stage and into the next phase of their lives.
Sixty one students, down slightly from the previous year’s 69, made up the class of 2019. Some had plans to join the workforce or the military, some two or four-year colleges, but all had one thing in common: they would miss the school they had attended for four years.
“(I’ll miss) the teachers,” said Cori Barrow, 17, as she waited for the ceremony to start. “They’re a really important part of Bisbee High.” Barrow plans to attend Cochise College, she said.
For some students, bound for other parts of the country, saying goodbye to their hometown and friends they’ve had since elementary school was difficult.
“I’ll miss my friends, since I’m moving away soon,” said Hanna Johnson-Lucas, 18, who would be heading to Ohio to attend Stark State College in the fall.
For Darin Giltner, who was wrapping up his first year as principal of the school, the class of 2019 would always hold a particular significance, he said.
“They have been impressive from the start of the year and will always be special to me in the sense that they will always be the first class I was responsible to and for as a principal,” he said. “It would be nice to have more time with them, that’s for sure.”
The ceremony started off on a solemn note with a speech from Giltner, who commemorated former Bisbee High English teacher Bill Sullivan. Sullivan had passed away the day before, Giltner said.
“Quite the person to inspire, and aspire to be,” he said. “And I know, Class of 2019, many of your parents were impacted by that very special man. And I hope you have those people cross your paths as you continue your journey.”
As the sun set over the surrounding mountains, the journey underway for the graduates was emphasized in many of the evening’s speeches, among them those of salutatorian Francisco Martan and valedictorian Colton Moldrem. Both students encouraged their peers to relish the remainder of their time before starting the next chapter in their lives, and to reflect on their goals and dreams.
“After we leave here tonight, we are sent out to the rest of our lives, this is the time when we are given the opportunity to evaluate ourselves,” Moldrem said. “It is a time for us to glimpse who we really are and who we are meant to be as we enter life as an adult.”
The last word of the evening went to class of 2019 president Bricella Moreno, 17, who gave the farewell speech. She had also helped to organize the entire graduation ceremony, she said.
“I’m really going to miss the teachers, Ms. Baker and Ms. Bouley — they helped me the most, they were really encouraging. Ms. Baker was the go–to teacher, she just gave us knowledge to use personally and educationally,” said Moreno before the ceremony.
She plans to go to Cochise College to study nursing in the fall, she said. “I’m nervous, but I’m proud of all the graduates here.”
In her farewell speech, Moreno also thanked those teachers, as well as the family members and friends who had helped her through high school’s challenges.
“To the class of 2019, best of luck, and may you accomplish all your dreams in life,” she said.
SIERRA VISTA — “Challenge your fears. Believe in yourself. Fight for want you want.”
That’s what Rachel Mount, Buena High School Class of 2019 valedictorian inspired her peers to do after they turned their tassels Thursday.
The theme of Buena’s 2019 graduation ceremony was taking risks and blazing their own paths as their peers and administrators encouraged the student body to do what makes them happy once the stepped foot off the school’s campus.
“Do something instead of watching it get done,” Principal Kristen Hale said before presenting the student body to Superintendent Kelly Glass while acknowledging each of the students in front of her have their own path.
Rodolfo Amaya, one of the Buena seniors who received their diploma Thursday night, starts a new journey in late June when he travels to Oklahoma for basic training, as he is enlisted in the U.S. Army.
“I think it’s a great way to get somewhere and be someone in life,” he said. “I’m going to miss the people at Buena. Everyone has different personalities (and) everyone is so diverse. It’s nice to hear how different they are.”
Buena’s alumni grew by 437 Thursday night, and after years together walking the same halls, they all will go their own way, but have the memories that tie them to the school and each other. This is what Mount wanted her peers to hold on to, even though tears would be shed once the ceremony was complete.
“As each of us move forward, we will not forget the friends we have made while here,” she said in her speech. “Tonight will end with hugs, tears, and laughter as we remember the special times with friends, but we must not forget this is merely the beginning.”
Mount chose to stay in state like some of her peers while some of her now former classmates will spread themselves out across the country. Tyler Holston, the Class of 2019 salutatorian, is venturing to California to attend the University of California, San Diego.
“... I have had such a great time here at Buena. Beyond the great education I have received, this school has given me extraordinary opportunities,” he said. “I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing new people, learn from dedicated teachers, and give back to a community that has done so much for me. I appreciate the investment that Sierra Vista has made in my future and the future of my peers.”
Like Holston, Hyrum Gray will leave the comforts of Sierra Vista. He is unsure where he will be going but he serve a two-year mission trip for The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. After his trip he plans to join the Army as a operating room specialist.
“It’ll give me a chance to help people and provide for a family in the future,” he said.
When asked what advice he would give to younger and future Buena students, Gray said “patience is key.”
“In life, many people spend too much time looking for instant gratification and the easy fix but greatness is achieved through long suffering and never taking the easy road,” he said.
Thursday’s ceremony was a time for family, friends, teachers and the graduates to celebrate their accomplishments thus far and prepare for their next steps.
Prior to the national anthem, the Class of 2019 took a moment to remember one of their peers who could not be there with them. In the front row stood an empty chair with yellow flowers for J.D. Austin, who student body president Samantha Tiburcio said will be remembered for his positive attitude.
Each graduate was encouraged to never stop trying even if scares them because at the end of the day the challenges build character.
“Being brave is not easy but doing things that scare you make you stronger,” Mount said. “We cannot let the fear of failure prevent us from trying. We may fail, but we can learn from those mistakes.”