Along with the usual pomp and circumstance, Roswell High School’s Class of 2019 commencement ceremony featured a passionate musical solo, emotional speeches and fireworks under the lights of the Wool Bowl on Friday night.
Seventy-four honors students and 151 other Roswell Coyotes accepted their hard-earned diplomas as air horns bugled, confetti fluttered and balloons — even a pink-sprinkled-donut shaped one — sailed away quickly in intense winds.
The full ceremony can be viewed at ksvptv.com.
RHS Principal Ruben Bolaños recognized the high number of honors students and thanked the students for their hard work that marks Roswell High and the city “on the map.” Bolaños also asked for a moment of silence for the present veterans and those that lost their lives as Memorial Day weekend approaches.
Bolaños, Senior Class President Junior Estrada, Salutatorian Araceli Jimenez and Valedictorian Yadria Landaverde addressed the audience and students in both English and Spanish.
All of the students’ speeches had common themes reflecting nostalgically on their high school years and thanking family, friends and staff, while encouraging their classmates as they embark on new futures.
Estrada compared the graduation to a final episode of a reality TV show, which he called “Keeping up with the Class of 2019,” alluding to the numerous seasons of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Estrada encouraged his fellow students to “produce” the best versions of themselves and their own stories.
Salutatorian Jimenez said five generations of her own family graduated from RHS and walked along the Wool Bowl field before her. Jimenez jokingly said the class of 2019 survived the last four years as well as the “wrath of Bolaños.”
On a more serious note, Jimenez reflected that she and her classmates have also survived one of the most “violent eras in public schools” in regard to the numerous school shootings. She asked for a moment of silence to honor those lost in such violent events.
When he presented a plaque to Jimenez, Bolaños recalled that his wife, who was Jimenez’s former elementary principal, stated that Jimenez would eventually become valedictorian or salutatorian of RHS.
Valedictorian Landaverde called family, friends and staff “heroes” for their support and sacrifices for students during their lives and educations. She said future successes, like college graduations and job promotions, were owed to parents and other supporting figures from the students as they advance in higher education or enter the workforce.
“And I hope that we can take a point from Abraham Lincoln when he said, ‘Whatever you are, be a good one,” Landaverde said. “Whether you are the student who has your entire life planned out already, or whether you are the student who’s completely unsure about what you want to do, have a purpose. Find the things that make you truly happy and use it to make a positive impact on the people that you encounter. We already have the example of all of these remarkable people, so now it is our turn to go and be a hero for someone else …”
Near the end of the ceremony, honors student Alexia Ortiz performed “I Know Where I’ve Been” by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman from the musical “Hairspray” as a solo.
As Ortiz sang, RHS students stood to their feet and turned on their cellphone flashlights to sway in time to the music as they cheered and clapped for Ortiz. The crowd on both sets of bleachers joined in the festivities and Ortiz received a standing ovation.
“There’s a dream in the future
There’s a struggle we have yet to win
And there’s pride in my heart
‘Cause I know where I’m going, yeah
And I know where I’ve been.”
City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.