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University High graduates 39 at Wool Bowl ceremony

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The 2018 University High School graduates. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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For University High School valedictorian Maria Anaya, the school made all the difference in her young life.

Salutatorian Alexandra Bennett, left, stands next to valedictorian Maria Anaya after University High School’s 34th annual commencement ceremony Thursday night at the Wool Bowl. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

She went through a period at a different high school when she considered dropping out, but the encouragement of family and friends and the decision to transfer to University High — known as the city’s less traditional high school and identified by its mascot of the Phoenix — led to her graduation in December and her recognition as the member of the 2018 class with the highest grade point average.

“This school really focuses on your education and really shows you they care,” said Anaya. “And they do anything to make you do your best.”

She said she plans to continue her studies at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, although she is still uncertain about her major or specific academic pursuits.

Anaya was joined by 39 other UHS graduates as they enjoyed sunny weather, a bit of a breeze and the applause of their supporters during their commencement Thursday night at the Wool Bowl.

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The graduates have accumulated 300 college credit hours, and many have received employability certificates, indicating their readiness for careers and college, said University High School Principal Porter Cutrell.

Salutatorian Alexandra Bennett also had a circuitous route to her diploma, having taken a break from school for two years before returning to finish her high school education about eight months ago.

She told her fellow graduates, who chose a class motto that defined themselves as “mighty and mean,” to work hard toward their goals.

“As long as you have the right mindset and motivation, you can achieve anything you set your mind to,” she said.

In her address to the class, Anaya drew inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr. and pop star Michael Jackson, quoting their exhortations to move forward at all times and to do what can be done to improve lives.

“The future of our community is in the palms of our hands,” Anaya told her fellow classmates as they began their steps toward that new journey.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.