Panther Stadium on a Friday night normally plays host to high school football but on this particular June Friday night scores of family and friends made their way into the stadium to cheer for their graduates.
The Class of 2014 took center stage on this night, bidding goodbye to their teachers, their classmates, their school and, in some cases, even their town. The 2014 graduating class of Van Alstyne High School boasts 97 graduates, though some of them were not present due to early graduation.
However, for those who made their way from the athletic field house to the stadium to the applause of the crowd it was a night to remember. The VAHS Band played the Star Spangled Banner while Mackenzie Merriman delivered the invocation.
Principal Dr. David Brown welcomed the graduates and audience, while Darrell Hardcastle announced community service awards. Morgan Welch was honored for an astounding record: no days missed from kindergarten through twelfth grade (more than 2400 days.)
Salutatorian Annie McGinnis said that she and her fellow graduates were blessed to grow up in “a compassionate town that cares for one another,” and remembered fallen classmate Beaux Borel and his family. Valedictorian Jeffrey Dietz channeled C.S. Lewis and advised his fellow seniors “the time to be an egg is no more,” to hatch and venture out into the big, wide world.
The Class of 2014 ended its time as VAHS students with a toss of the caps and hugs and well-wishes for each other.
In Howe, it was a full Bulldog gymnasium that greeted the Class of 2014 as it made its way down the aisle to sit near the graduation stage on Saturday. Parking was at a premium outside as parents, family both immediate and extended and friends gathered to send their seniors off into the world.
Eighty-one students graduated Howe High School this year, and salutatorian Brianna Rideout advised them to embrace the change, accept that it is a brave new world out there, that “the world is so much bigger than this small town and there is so much potential in this class to do great things. It may be terrifying, but so long as we remember the lessons from those who helped us to get to this point, we will always be connected to our roots and the world won’t seem as frightful as it is now.”
Valedictorian Jessica Akins spoke of the concept of family.
“Families — biological or otherwise — aren’t supposed to be neat, organized, or even manageable. But that’s the beauty of it. Families are held together by strong bonds and strong emotions,” she said. “I know many of us are sad to leave this all behind, while others are ecstatic — I think the majority of us are both…So make new friends in college, but don’t forget the ones you grew up with.”
Following the speeches, scholarship students were recognized and diplomas handed out by Howe ISD Superintendent Kevin Wilson as the graduates made their way across the stage and into the next chapter of their lives.