Six hundred and forty one San Benito High School students on June 2 received their reward for 12 years of attending classes, doing homework, taking tests, and making friends, at the school's 122nd annual graduation commencement ceremony.
On Friday morning, "Pomp and Circumstance" set the emotional tone for the graduates’ procession into the ceremony just north of Andy Hardin Field on campus, and was soon followed by shouts and whooping it up as each graduate walked to the stage and received the coveted diploma.
Thirteen students were honored for having perfect attendance throughout all four years of high school and the Top 10 academic seniors were announced. They were: Santana Rodriguez, Colleen Maresh, Lauren Klauer, Diana Sanchez Ruiz, Jake Edvenson, Joshua Harris, Marco Gaitan, Emily Bishop, Ray Flores and Marissa Santiago.
The salutatorian, Maresh, and valedictorian, Rodriguez, offered words for the graduates’ lives going forward.
Maresh got the crowd laughing by her first thoughts as a new student going into school as a sophomore transfer student. Her parents told her they were moving to California, and she had dreams of Southern California with the likes of Hollywood. What she found in Hollister instead, were cowboys.
Maresh spoke of having a disagreeable attitude in the beginning, but after realizing that wasn’t helping her, she accepted the surroundings and then school became a positive experience.
Rodriguez, who earned the title of valedictorian for her educational excellence, also spoke of the positive experience she had in high school and offered encouragement to her classmates.
Senior Class President Brianna Martin used Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote to inspire her classmates: ‘”If you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”’
Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum told the graduates, “Remember who made a difference in your lives.”
Teachers wore black gowns and participated in the ceremony, walking with graduates from Mattson Gym and lining the entrance to the ceremony.
Teachers Derek Barnes, Lane Bacchi, Vincent Parker and Melissa Peeters read the names of every graduate who made their path to the podium to receive a diploma. P.E. teacher Laurie Chavez coordinated the graduation ceremony, from the rehearsal the the flipping of the tassels after the last name was read.
Parents, siblings, friends were eagerly waiting on the grounds for their graduate to give hugs and praise for their accomplishments, and the graduates were busy accepting congratulations and posing for memorable photos.
Graduate Medina Perez may summed it all up: “I was nervous going into the ceremony, but very excited about going into the world.”