With their final steps as Sealy High School students coming en route to receiving their diplomas, the newest batch of Tiger alumni put on a show at Friday night’s graduation ceremony at T.J. Mills Stadium and left the field lighting up the sky.
The 171 seniors started their final mission emerging through the inflatable Tiger head on the east side of the field and made their way to their seats before graduating members of the choir performed the National Anthem under the direction of Matthew Kent.
From there, Principal Megan Oliver welcomed the crowd and listed all the staff members who made the possible before introducing class vice president and prom queen Elisa Alvarez for the welcoming address.
“Our years in high school have flown by but we are off to do great things,” she said. “It is my pleasure to welcome each and every one of you to this celebration that would not be possible without everyone’s presence and guidance.”
Valedictorian Danielle Bersche then took the podium to address both the crowd and her classmates, urging them all to not sleep through life. She also took the time to thank her classmates who were brand new to her after moving to Sealy the summer before their freshman year.
“On the first day of school I went through all my classes trying to remember the names of people, figuring out where to go and doing the normal first-day things,” she said before mentioning sitting through very similar speeches from teachers until a specific noise broke her attention in fifth period.
“I started to hear snoring right behind me,” she explained. “I turned around and Derek (Bollinger) was sleeping on the very first day of school. Since then I have seen him sleep many times in school, but he always seems to get his work done.”
She mentioned that he will soon be leaving to join the Air Force and thanked him for his future service.
“Don’t go through life waiting for time to pass and waiting for the future,” she continued. “We must live in the moment cherish the moments we live because the bad times always pass and the good times are over way too quick.
“Always remember to live in the moment and don’t sleep through the one life you’re given, but if you do need sleep, decorate your bedroom to look like a classroom,” she closed, welcoming Salutatorian Meghan Hein to the stage next.
There, she started with the laundry list of obstacles that may have posed a threat at the time but served as no match to those who teamed together to support each other through it all.
Between the fight between fingers and scooters in elementary school, to the bug debacle of intermediate school which led to the bats that kept the class company in junior high school, all of those served as simply a precursor to high school.
“From each person’s perspective we can make a long list of obstacles we faced on a daily basis around campus; soap dispensers, parking lots, fighting up and down the main stairway and of course all three natural disasters we missed school for,” she said.
“Through all the problems and obstacles we faced, we made it here to tonight with a few cool stories to tell in our future. We’ve had each other’s backs since the beginning; the truth is you just can’t do anything alone,” Hein closed, adding that in whatever challenges come up in the future, stay true to your support system.
Class president Diari Dabney was next on the microphone to elaborate on all the good times the group encountered along the way which shaped them to become, in her eyes, the best of the best from Sealy.
“This class consisted of nothing but achievers who will conquer all obstacles they are faced with,” she said. “It was my honor to lead my classmates and I’m 100% confident when I say: We are the best there was, there is and there will ever be. Graduating is not the end of our story, but a new beginning to adventure into what life has in store for us.”
Part of pursuing whatever lies in front of graduates was altered just a little after Superintendent Sheryl Moore used her time to shift the focus of new adults entering the world. She brought up a speaker that she had recently listened to, Jaime Casap, who owns the title of global education evangelist for Google.
“He was born to a single mother who had emigrated from Argentina,” Moore started. “He went to kindergarten not knowing any English.”
His mother instilled in him that “education had the power to change the destiny of an entire family in one generation,” Moore said.
She then went on to the perception-changing statement where Casap mentioned we have to “quit asking kids what they want to be when they grow up,” Moore said.
“We should ask them a better question, one that might lead kids on a path that means something to them and the world,” she said. “He told us to ask kids, ‘What problem do you want to solve; what keeps you up at night; what interests you so much you spend hours learning about it, not because you’re going to receive a grade, but because you know there must be a better way?’ That’s what you should pursue.”
She added that her confidence in their world-changing abilities is ever-present and wished them the best of luck. Oliver then reclaimed the podium to begin the distribution of the diplomas the students had worked so hard for.
After all 171 names were called, Hunter Havel took the spotlight for the farewell address where he left his classmates with one final challenge.
“And now to my fellow graduating class of 2019; our high school years have come to an end and the next few months we will face new horizons and changes,” he noted. “Some of us will stay close to home, some of us will move far away and some of us will find ourselves on other continents.”
But, he added, opportunities to achieve greatness will forever surround them and therein lay his outgoing trial to his classmates; “Dare to be all you can be.”
From there, band director Rolando Cantu guided what will be the returning crop of musicians in one final playing of the school song which allowed the graduates to interlock arms and sway back and forth one more time, leading up to the eventual climax of the song with the accompanying fireworks lighting up the sky courtesy of Project Graduation.
Caps were sent flying through the air with the colorful explosions serving as the backdrop for the embraces and celebratory yelps from both students and their families for jobs well done one more time as Sealy Tigers.