Celebrating Wildcat graduates
Last updated 5/25/2021 at 3:45pm
CLOVIS - As the soon-to-be former students of Clovis High School made their way onto the field of Leon Williams Stadium, they were greeted by a raucous crowd.
The celebration, Principal Jay Brady said, was well deserved.
"These kids," Brady said, "deserve every inch of this celebration."
A senior year of high school, conducted entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, came to a conclusion for the CHS 2021 class on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Due to virus concerns, the school held its ceremony at Leon Williams Stadium. The weather, which was a concern for the school's first outdoor graduation in more than a decade, mostly cooperated with the exception of a wind that displaced more than a few graduation caps.
About 2 1/2 hours after first entering the football field, the graduates left the field to pick up their diplomas inside at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.
The school does not assign speeches to valedictorians or salutatorians, but instead selects four students to speak on the past, present, future and a challenge to that year's class.
Malachi Cobb spoke of a past that, for most, included a transition from one of more than a dozen elementary schools and mascots, to the middle schools' Gattis Cubs, Yucca Chaparrals and Marshall Kittens, to finally become Wildcats. He told his classmates to never think they were unseen, unloved or unappreciated, even though there were a few less-than-stellar days.
"View your past as a way of learning," Cobb said, "and not a way of living."
Pacer Hill spoke on the present, but largely spoke on the presence of the pandemic and how it started so simply - with he and his junior classmates stoked about an extended spring break.
"Two weeks became one month," Hill said, "which became two months, which became the summer, then the fall, then 2021. The only people happy about it were the creators of the Zoom app."
Hill, the son of two Clovis Municipal Schools administrators, assured the crowd that plenty of work that made the school year happen went largely unseen by most students and the public.
Madison Harmon said the future was coming fast, with the commencement marking adulthood and a time to seriously answer what they want to do when they grow up.
"We would giggle," Harmon said, "answer the question, and go back to our coloring books."
To those who have figured out that answer, Harmon lauded them. To those still figuring it out, Harmon said - at the risk of upsetting parents helping with tuition payments - that an extra semester or year of college was a small sacrifice if it meant a lifetime of doing what you were happy doing.
Lesly Bustillos recalled a challenging upbringing and her appreciation for parents - who came to America still learning English while their 8-year-old daughter would sometimes take on the role of reading and translating important documents.
She challenged the graduates of 2021 to get out of their comfort zones, while noting the pandemic certainly gave them experience in that regard.
"It was our Wildcat pride that kept us together, especially during these difficult times."
Brady commended the students on what had been a difficult year for everybody, be they student or school employee.
"You have been relentless and inspiring," Brady said, "accomplishing so much while making sacrifices. To be honest, I needed to see your smiling faces more than you needed to see mine."