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Early College High School ‘family’ celebrates commencement ceremony

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Early College High School valedictorian Emmett Asencio closes his speech Wednesday night with a quote from British mathematician and scientist Alan Turing: “Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

They describe themselves as amigos, family, as those who persevered, as adults ready for the next challenge.

The small class of Early College High School gathered Wednesday night in a packed Performing Arts Center at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell for the school’s second annual commencement exercises.

Only 25 young men and women are in the 2019 graduating class of the school, in which students take high school and college courses concurrently so that they graduate with high school diplomas as well as college associate’s degrees or technical certificates.

The six student speakers, Sophia Vargas, Nayeli Sanchez, Kendal Sanders, Angelica Velazquez, salutatorian Elizabeth Maguire and valedictorian Emmett Asencio talked about their relationships, how they relied on each other to deal with “chaotic” schedules and intense stress and to encourage each other to be better.

They talked about bonding over field trips to Bottomless Lakes State Park, late nights at Starbucks and movie marathons. They talked about how more was expected of them than of other high school students, how they were urged to excel, to choose the more challenging path; and they talked about being ready now to achieve greater accomplishments, to become nurses, artists, chefs and lawyers.

Although he said that their common trait is being New Mexicans, Asencio encouraged them not to feel stereotyped by people who consider New Mexico the land of “manana,” where people procrastinate or have the wrong priorities.

“Fortunately for us, we left that behind when we walked into Early College High School,” he said, adding that they chose to attend a school without sports teams or extracurricular activities so that they could focus on academics. “Our choice of high school set us up for the rest of life.”

“I am proud of you,” he said, “and I can’t wait for you to be successful.”