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Graduation celebrated in Bisbee in spite of virus

BISBEE — Memories of the years flowed with tears at the graduation of the Bisbee High School Class of 2020 May 21 at Warren Ballpark.

It was clear there was heartache. The graduates could not hug their classmates or teachers or family members who traditionally cheered them from the stands of the BHS Pumas as they received their diplomas.

Instead, only a few family members, who had to stay in their vehicles parked drive-in movie style, were able to attend due to the social distancing and avoidance of large gathering recommendations they had to follow just to be there.

The students were allowed to sit on chairs brought with them in the grass in front of their family cars and trucks.

Principal Darin Giltner commented on the unique situation they have faced as he addressed the students and family members.

“You all will be remembered in a special way. You created your very own special memories on campus for the past four years. This included ups and downs of all sorts, for instance a worldwide pandemic only a couple of months before your graduation.

“So, yes, this does make the class of 2020 uniquely special, much like this amazing community we all call home. I know that these are unprecedented times that none of us could have anticipated in any way, shape, or form.

“These times of school closures, stay at home orders and physical distancing should remind us all of how precious time and our lives are and what is truly important and matters to us. Yes, these are very tough times for so many different reasons, but I know that many of you have been through incredibly challenging situations already in your lives.

“And, you will undoubtedly face even more difficult situations in the future. Remember you are always in control of your attitude and your effort and should view obstacles as a way to learn and improve. It is a choice you have to make though each and every day.”

Waves, cheers, honking horns and shouts of “Miss you,” “Congratulations,” “We made it,” soared from vehicle to vehicle and had to suffice for these young women and men who would now start new chapters in their lives during a most difficult time.

As valedictorian Carmen Chavira Otero said in her speech, “The current situation is far from ideal, as we all wanted our traditional graduation. We wanted our family and friends here to watch us cross this stage. Some of us don’t even have our parents with us here today. And I truly believe this is the greatest ache that is being felt tonight.

“But, not even corona can take this moment you have earned with the many, many years of hard work you have put in to be here today.”

Senior Class President Cesilia Garcia also felt the sting of the separateness, and said to the gathering, “I still believe we have created some sense of togetherness despite the pandemic. Even without the pandemic, this graduation would still be bittersweet with emotions running at an all-time high, because for the past 13 years we have waited for this moment.

“Everyone had different experiences growing up – people and events that motivated us differently. But, here we are together going through a pandemic graduation. This is something we’ll remember the rest of our lives. I hope it will motivate us to take action in things we have deemed important after going through this and do what we think is the best, not just for us, but our communities.

“The Class of 2020 will be remembered as the class that went through the trials and tribulations every step of the way and didn’t let a global pandemic get the best of us.”

Student Body President Diana Vasquez noted, “I know this graduation is not how we dreamed nor what we planned, but I’m more than thankful I can be here in your presence one more time. Let’s be honest, not everyone can say they graduated during a pandemic.

“It is not important how our graduation is, what matters are the achievements, efforts and commitments put in to obtaining this diploma with the unconditional support of our families, peers and teachers.”

Each student did have the opportunity to cross the stage as tears ran down cheeks and smiles lit their faces to receive their high school diplomas to the cheers of classmates and families.

Then, at the end the traditional cap toss and one final loud celebration of voices and horns ended the unique ceremony.

The Dr. Seuss poem “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!’ read by Otero still lingered: “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.”

Naco resident Margue Ritte elaborates about the three sheep a nearby neighbor owns.