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Roswell High celebrates a ‘new dawn, new day, new life’; Roswell High’s graduation ceremony honors past, embraces future

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Roswell High School graduates, including, front left, valedictorian Laura Laidley and, second from left, salutatorian Mackenzie Stover, celebrate their ‘new dawn, new day and new life’ Saturday night at the Wool Bowl. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Roswell High School’s Class of 2018 chose to pay tribute to themselves and to others during their commencement ceremony Saturday night in the Wool Bowl.

The often emotional evening included some speeches delivered in both English and Spanish, last words of wisdom from Principal Ruben Bolanos, several rousing vocal performances by students and the frequent yells of graduates’ names from the stands.

Held during Memorial Day weekend, the event also saw the awarding of an honorary diploma to World War II veteran and Bronze Star recipient Lowell Hughes, 98, to thank him for the years he gave to his country, which prevented him from finishing high school.

Hughes had given a speech to the school for a Veteran’s Day assembly in 2017, leading the students and faculty to their decision to honor him.

“You won’t believe how this feels,” Hughes said, who told graduates that they will soon be the leaders of Roswell, what he called the “best city in the United States.”

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This year, 132 young men and women earned their diplomas as they received the congratulations and encouragement of fellow students and Principal Bolanos.

Senior Class President Joel Ramos said he wanted to motivate his classmates, many of whom he had known since he was 6, to continue pushing themselves.

“It seems like just yesterday we were waking up from our nap time at our elementary school,” he said, “and now we are waking up to reality and adulthood. Just because we graduated does not mean that it is time to chill and take a break.”

Salutatorian Mackenzie Stover described four factors to living true to oneself: don’t compare oneself to others, stay driven and determined, find something to be passionate about, and always be honest.

Valedictorian Laura Laidley talked about how Albert Einstein replaced photos of famous scientists that he had displayed in his house with photos of Indian activist and independence leader Mathatma Gandhi and theologian and physician Albert Schweitzer.

“When asked why he had made the changes, he replied that he needed to replace the worldly and materialistic image of success with the image of service,” Laidley said, who encouraged others to follow the example. “We need to concentrate not on our own success or materialistic wealth but on serving others and, in doing so, we can cause change in the world.”

Bolanos praised students for overcoming illnesses, family hardships and other difficulties to reach graduation, and he became emotional when he said their examples reminded him to stay strong during his own difficult times.

He told them never to feel sorry for themselves because self-pity leads to bad habits and behaviors, to understand that bad times will come but can be surmounted with the help of family and God, and to turn to family for advice and honest assessments.

“Remember that you are a special person,” he said. “Take care of yourselves and may God shower you with health and blessings as you go and conquer the world. My heart is to you.”

The entire ceremony can be viewed at ksvptv.com.

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