DEL NORTE — For the first time in a year, parents, family and friends were able to gather at the Upper Rio Grande School District to honor the Del Norte High School Class of 2021.
Due to the pandemic, the event was only open to people with tickets, the graduation ceremony was also streamed live online for anyone who wanted to watch the Class of 2021 walk across the stage. The new school was in immaculate condition as attendees were escorted to the gymnasium decorated in the school’s colors of orange, black and white.
Parents, family and friends watched as the Class of 2021 walked in while Pomp and Circumstance played on the gym speakers, bringing with it a sense of nostalgia and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the chance to graduate under somewhat normal circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic played havoc on graduations throughout the country last May and all who were in attendance on Friday, May 28 were grateful for the chance at normalcy, especially the graduating students.
New Superintendent Aaron Horrocks was the keynote speaker for the ceremony. Once Horrocks finished welcoming students and their attending family and teachers, Amelie Pacheco sang the national anthem. The students elected two Valedictorians to lead the graduation ceremony with two speeches about the future and all that it could hold. The first to speak was Nicole Albert who gave the Valedictorian Address.
“When I stand here today and look back on my peers, I see their futures," Albert said. "Like, how Michael Gonzalez wants to be an author or how Kaeci Madrid wants to go into psychology or how most of us have absolutely no idea what we want to do at all. I myself have been struggling with that decision. I have considered everything from engineering to giving up and I’ve considered everything and that’s OK. I am not going to stand up here and say we have all the time in the world because we don’t. The fact that we have so little time is one reason to be indecisive, you want to make sure that what you do for your future is something that you truly love because if you truly love what you do, success is inevitable. Whatever you do, exhaust every single possibility, even if it's something you never even dreamed.”
Next, Salutatorian Soren Bailey said, “I hope that as you sit here with endless memories running through your head, it all ends with you being proud of yourself because I know that I am proud of each and every one of you. We are here to commemorate being done with high school but we are also here to commemorate what happens next. I don’t know how many times I have been told in the last month that I am ending a huge chapter of my life, but I am going to have to disagree with that sentiment. This is not the end of a single chapter, this is the end of the first book. We are all sitting here today beginning the blueprints for book two and I say this because the first book was co-authored by those who raised us, the next book is written by us alone. The work doesn’t stop here, it continues on. If this last year has shown us anything, it that’s unexpected events happen. So keep your values close to you.”
After the speeches, individual scholarship recipients were awarded by representatives from local scholarship organizations that included the Jay C. Schrader Memorial Scholarship that went to Eric Lorenz, the Del Norte Rotary Scholarship that also went to Lorenz, the Del Norte Bank Scholarship that went to Logan Cestone, the Pass it Forward Grant was awarded to Domniana Atencio and the Del Norte Masonic Lodge Scholarship was awarded to Albert, Kaeci Madrid, and Lorenz.